Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

August 30, 2010

Bellissima, madame!

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 6:05 pm

Nothing short of a mini-masterpiece, the Italian film Malena is the coming-of-age story of a 12-year-old boy in Sicily who becomes fixated with the town’s most beautiful and voluptuous resident, the wife of a local soldier who’s away at war. The lady in question, Malena, played by Monica Bellucci, has the entire town in a tizzy. Men of all ages find her utterly irresistible, and to the women, she’s a slut, a home-wrecker and also the target of some very malicious gossip.

Renato, the young Italian boy who’s become obsessed with her, might actually be the only person in the whole town who has an idea of who she really is. Having climbed up a tree outside her house, Renato has spied on her; he’s seen her dancing sadly with her husband’s photograph. He’s also followed her across town when she visits her father’s grave. When he notices men in the town staring at her lustfully, and women giving her spiteful looks, Renato creates a sort of imaginary world in his head where he becomes Malena’s protector.

It’s a boyish fantasy and sometimes he acts upon it, like that time in school when he fights with the boys who make cheap comments about her. When word comes that Malena’s husband has been killed in war, she’s shattered both emotionally and financially. She ends up becoming exactly what the townspeople had imagined her to be all along.

Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, the director of that excellent Italian film Cinema Paradiso, the audience sees this story too unfold through the eyes of the young boy. And much like Cinema Paradiso actually, this film, Malena is also essentially a growing-up story. It’s the performances of the two leads that really infuses color into this story.

Monica Bellucci burns up the screen with her sex appeal, she’s also just remarkably beautiful, so she uses that to construct a character that is sometimes girl-next-door, sometimes sex-kitten. What’s more she does this with almost no dialogue. Meanwhile, Giuseppe Sulfaro, the young boy who plays Renato, proves himself to be such a bright young talent because he plays the part with just the right degree of wide-eyed-curiosity and balances that appropriately with quiet maturity.

The film is shot dreamily, the town is filmed postcard-perfect and these factors lend character to this story which is told in flashback by Renato.

If you enjoy good foreign cinema and you don’t have a problem reading subtitles, don’t miss Malena. It’s a film you can’t help losing your heart to.


  1. mr.masand you are right.. i have seen this movie for 4 times.. and its a very beautiful story… monica bellucci looks very gorgeous.. i wish this movie can release in indian cinemas..

    Comment by chintan pathak — September 10, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

  2. I liked d scene in which she gets nude in front of d young boy!

    Comment by Kev — September 11, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

  3. Bollywood did try to copy it and as expected ruined it- in the form of Ek Chotisi Love Story.

    Comment by Kay — September 16, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

  4. I adore Monica Bellucci and she was utterly splendid in the movie. She’s a stunning actress and such an ethereal beauty. It’s a moving film and it’s amazing how it holds your attention with very few dialogues.

    Comment by Janhvi Patel — October 6, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

  5. Hi all,
    Malena is one of the good movies I’ve seen till now.
    BTW mr. Kay the movie which you think Bollywood copied as Ek Chotisi Love Story is actually from the movie A Short Film About Love. In my opinion people just hyped the movie so much that no one could ever understand different characters of the movie. I found it absolutely brilliant as a fresh movie with out pre conception of plot being picked from some other foreign movie. You end up blaming for a love making scene but never thought of it’s significance.#Just sayin

    Comment by Ashis — August 25, 2011 @ 8:43 am

  6. I checked out the other movie ” A short story about love”. Guess what?? Ek Chotisi Love Story is a carbon copy of that movie.

    Comment by Ashis — August 25, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  7. My husband gave this DVD once so I watched it,n mother of baby Jesus Monica Belucci is damn gorgeous!!! and I liked the boy’s side of story too..Its a good movie..highly recommended..

    Comment by indrani — February 1, 2013 @ 6:23 am

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