Sunday, 7 April 2013

A Castellitto-family epic about motherhood - Venuto al mondo [2012 Italy, Spain]

Sergio Castellitto is among the few actors who've made a name for themselves as a film director. His latest drama, "Venuto al mondo" [Eng. Title: Twice Born], like the earlier Non ti mouvere, is yet another family project. Based on wife Margaret Mazzantini's novel and screenplay, and also starring his son Pietro, Castellitto and family have constructed a magnificent epic set against the backdrop of the Balkan conflict.

Gemma (Penélope Cruz), a middle-aged Italian woman takes her son Pietro (Pietro Castellitto) to Sarajevo, after being invited by old friend Gojco (Adnan Haskovic) for a photographic exhibition that will also feature Pietro's natural father, the American Diego's (Emile Hirsch) works. This is not Gemma's first visit to Sarajevo; her story, and Pietro's - unbeknown to him, share a deep connection with some of the momentous events in the Bosnian city's history, which we'll learn during the course of their journey.

Gemma first met Diego, a friend of Gojco, at a bohemian commune in Sarajevo during the late eighties, and instantly fell in love - just weeks before her marriage to someone else back in Rome. Predictably, that marriage won't last, and it is only a matter of time before the lovers unite and get married. But events in the early nineties will draw Diego and Gemma back to Sarajevo, where demands for secession from Yugoslavia grow louder by the day. It is during that visit that they meet Aska (Saadet Aksoy), a Muslim musician who comes forward to do the couple a personal favour - Gemma has after all not been able to deliver a child after several unsuccessful attempts...

It is during the second half that the film 'bursts into life'. We will witness the birth pangs of a nation, and Pietro's birth, amidst the carnage that ensues the siege of Sarajevo - quite poetic that a wannabe mother makes this extraordinary effort to bring a new life into the world, while many around her lose theirs.  The Italians are pretty good at these kind of epic sagas, as films such as Bertolucci's Il Conformista and Giordana's La meglio gioventù would testify. Sergio Castellitto has proven once again that he knows how to tell a story through compelling cinema. Using a global cast, he narrates the film using his characters' own natural languages - Italian, English, and Bosnian, and while it may require some getting used to, it is adequately compensated for through exquisite screenplay. The performance by the main cast is of high standard, but I was particularly impressed by Bosnian actor Adnan Haskovic who plays Gojco. This is a well made mainstream film that all in the family should be able to enjoy - Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link [PAL]


The Nudity: Penélope Cruz, Emile Hirsch, and Saadet Aksoy
The film features brief nudity from Penélope Cruz - first during a sex scene with Emile Hirsch (also nude), and later while vainly trying to breastfeed the baby. There is nudity also from Turkish actress Saadet Aksoy that'll culminate in a disturbing rape scene.

Penélope Cruz, Emile Hirsch, and Saadet Aksoy in Venuto al mondo


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