A Sicilian Ghost Story
Stars: Julia Jedlikowska, Gaetano Fernandez, Corrine Musallari, Sabine Timoteo, Vincenze Amato
Directing duo Grassadonia and Piazza’s follow-up to the highly-praised Mafia hitman pic Salvo is a bewitching combination of dramatized true crime story, angsty teen romance and dark fairy tale. It’s based on the real life 1993 kidnap of Giuseppe Di Matteo, the eleven-year-old son of a Sicilian Mafia member turned informant. The picture posits a romance between Giuseppe (Fernandez) and local girl Luna (Jedlikowska) after a chance meeting in the forest. Luna is warned off Guiseppe by her severe mother (Timoteo), but whether this is because his father is ex-Mafioso or an informer is deliberately unclear. When Giuseppie goes missing the local community refuses to act, probably out of fear. Eventually Luna and her friend Loredana (Musallari) decide to take matters into their own hands, producing posters which they hang around town. The story cuts to Giuseppe, who has been kidnapped by Mafioso dressed as policemen and chained to a wall in a dank farmhouse. During his ordeal he is watched over by an angelic doppelganger. A brief precis can’t do justice to a picture that is rich with mythical allusions, a memorable fairytale-style depiction of the forest teeming with wildlife, and a palpable atmosphere conjured via dense sound design and odd camera angles, in which the unspoken and hidden are manifested via the supernatural and uncanny. Victor Erice’s 1973 classic The Spirit of the Beehive is an obvious influence; and Jedlikowska’s Luna is a serious-minded and determined heroine to root for.