A famous filmmaker returns to the Sicilian village where he grew up. He reminisces about the projectionist at the local cinema, his best friend as a child, who taught him to love cinema
Hands up who's seen Cinema Paradiso on the big screen? You may have heard of it, a cheery Italian art film about the friendship between a gruff projectionist and a cute young boy, set in a dusty, WWII Sicilian village. And that it's meant to be quite good. For a foreign film, like. Well, here's a second chance to bathe in the graceful, moving simplicity of one of cinema's great love songs to cinema.
Tornatore hit upon something miraculous when he wrote this tale of romance, between a young man and the movies, and friendship, between a wise, wry projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) and the cheeky urchin Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) who wiles his way into the booth. Peppered with moments from film greats - the lyrical syntax of this love affair - the film grows up with Salvatore, slipping from moment to cherishable moment.
Not a false note is struck among the sunkissed Sicilian locations, gentle, humorous performances, and tinkling soundtrack. Assembled with a wide-eyed, childlike wonder, Tornatore taps themes of bonding, nostalgia, community, history and the power of film to transport man into a world of dreams.
Transcending boundaries of arthouse and subtitle, Cinema Paradiso wraps you in a tender embrace and refuses to let go. And if you haven't blubbed by the time a fortysomething Salvatore plays Alfredo's long-hidden gift, then you're most likely dead. Don't sniff at its foreignness - this is food for the weary soul.
Breaking through anti-arthouse prejudice with its simple love of cinema, this is worth a look even for those who can't stand foreign films. And then there's the exhilarating kiss-clip finale.