Director: Guiseppe Tornatore
Stars: Monica Belluci, Guiseppe Sulfaro, Gilberto Idonea and others
Maléna is a gorgeous period drama that explores social conservatism through the fantasies of a prepubescent teenage boy and the tragedy of a beautiful lady. With a mixture of contemporary and sensual elements, Maléna artistically captures the grim reality with a standing point that is relevant to this day.
The film is set in the Italian town of Sicily, in the backdrop of the Second World War. The war hasn’t taken its toll on the town yet and the inhabitants lead a mundane lifestyle shackled with uninspiring pursuits. In this sleepy town also resides Renato(played by Guiseppe Sulfaro) a 12 year old boy awakened by arousing sensual thoughts directed towards Maléna Scordia(played by Monica Belluci), a beautiful woman separated from her husband, as a consequence of the war. Maléna is introduced to Renato through a gang of teenage bystanders who spend their pastime ogling at Maléna’s features. Maléna allures Renato deeply with her mere existence, as he makes a larger than life figure out of her. Meanwhile, Maléna receives a word that her husband has been killed in the war. Renato observes Maléna sink in her grief and loneliness through his gratuitous spying exercises. The death of Maléna’s husband inspires scandalous rumours and her character assassination begins. The belligerent women town folk, envious of Maléna’s beauty destroy her image and superficially discard her from the society. Opportunistic men take advantage of Maléna’s pitiable position to satisfy their obscene carnal desires. Renato observes Maléna’s tragic descent into becoming a social outcast and realization dawns upon him.
The film apprises how the curse of beauty can plague modest and normal people in a society. Maléna is an average and honest person in the community. But, nature’s gift of beauty ostracizes her, both from normalcy and the community. Her beauty was envied by women and inspired perverse incentives in men. Unwarranted perversion, jealousy and social conservatism projected towards her, doomed her existence. Another important aspect of the film is Renato’s transcendence from erotic aspirations to a mature sentimentality he developed towards Maléna. Renato showcased that the effort to understand a person evokes fruitful emotions such as sympathy and compassion. Maléna is a brilliant film that sparkles with social relevance and substantial honesty.
Guiseppe Tornatore’s virtuous direction and engaging screenplay crafts a perfection that Maléna is. Ennio Morricone’s prodigious score is soul touching and fulfils the melancholic elements of the film. Monica Belluci’s expressive performance coupled with Guiseppe Sulfaro’s inspiring character arc makes Maléna an unforgettable cinematic experience.
Maléna is a beautiful tragedy that makes a very valid point. Toxic and conservative mindsets lead to social immorality and degradation.