The latest triumph from Giuseppe Tornatore, the writer and director of the Academy Award(R)-winning CINEMA PARADISO, MALENA is an utterly unforgettable story of a boy's journey into manhood amid the chaos and intolerance of World War II. In a sleepy Italian village, the most beautiful woman in town, Malena (Monica Bellucci), becomes the subject of increasingly malicious gossip among the lustful townsmen and their jealous wives. But only her most ardent admirer, young Renato Amoroso (Giuseppe Sulfaro), will learn the untold true story of the mysterious and elusive Malena! In a captivating motion picture nominated for two Academy Awards, the eventual struggles and hardships that Malena must bravely endure serve to inspire Renato to new heights of compassion, courage, and independence!
When 12-year-old Renato, riding through his small Italian town on his new bicycle, sees the voluptuous Malèna, little does he know he's launching on an infatuation that will carry him through the tumultuous days of World War II. Malèna
begins as an enraptured depiction of Renato's adolescent mind--the way he stares, hypnotized, at Malèna's garters pressing through the material of her tight skirt, or his frustrated rebellion against the indignity of wearing short pants--but soon transforms into a portrait of small-town prejudice. Malèna's looks spark lust and envy in the townspeople; when her husband dies in combat, the gossip only intensifies, to the point that Malèna is dragged into court to defend herself against accusations of adultery. When the women of the town refuse to sell her edible food at the market, Malèna has little choice but to become what she's been unjustly accused of being. At the end, a twist of fate turns this tale of longing and jealousy into a heartbreaking love story. Monica Bellucci exudes the can't-help-it eroticism that makes Malèna such a lightning rod for everyone's desires; she's like a more zaftig Isabelle Adjani. The movie seems to wander at times, but the ending has a powerful emotional impact. From the director of Cinema Paradiso
. --Bret Fetzer