La meglio gioventù (2006 DVD)
Directed by Marco Tullio Giordana
In Italian with English and Spanish subtitles
Miramax didn't do anybody any favors with its mindless DVD copywriting ("Passion and adventure...under the Italian sun" it tritely says on one side of the cover; "In the award-winning epic tradition of The Godfather and Cold Mountain" it boldly declares with no real meaning on the other), and the misleading cover art that seems designed to pitch this movie as some sort of an Oprah-friendly romantic trifle isn't much of a help either. Still, those who can move beyond the publicity gaffes will be in for a real treat. First aired as a six-hour miniseries on Italian TV before making it to the big screen as a rarely-seen but almost unanimously-acclaimed two-parter, La meglio gioventù is a monumental, sprawling historical drama that follows brothers Matteo and Nicola Carati (Alessio Boni and Luigi Lo Cascio) through almost forty years of life, loves and loss in the bel paese. I don't normally go for the whole family drama-set-amid-the-social-turmoils-of-a-bygone-era sort of thing because those kinds of efforts usually feel so fake, but director Giordana, screenwriters Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli (two-thirds of the ace writing team later responsible for the equally-excellent Mio fratello è figlio unico, still my favorite film seen in the theaters this year), and an absolutely superb ensemble cast do a Giuseppe di Lampedusa-like job of making the intersections between the personal and the political believable. The result is a highly-entertaining and at times even mesmerizing temporal and geographical travelogue through a 1966-2003 Italy of student strikes, Red Brigade threats, and mafia massacres with a lot more lyricism and soul than we have any right to expect in a movie--much less one that originally aired on TV. Outstanding. (www.video.com/miramax)
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