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on March 21, 2017
This movie takes you into a window of how other people live and what they value.
Exotic location, a paradise for some, a struggle for others.
One person's cup of tea might be another's bitters. I found it enjoyable, but the children's
pranks on one another caused me to pause.
Good cast. if you like foreign films. This might be one for you.
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on January 6, 2006
This beautiful film impacted me at a very physical level. The beauty of the sun baked island of Lampedusa in the turquoise Mediterranean Sea is stunning and elicits images of antiquity. The actors are almost angelic in their beauty. The life of the family and villagers is primal and native, simple and sometimes harsh. There are multiple issues that could be discussed about this film. I will discuss three below:

First, the mother in this story, Grazia, is a functioning manic-depressive who is wild and delightful in her manic stages. Yet, she frightens the town's other residents and she is an embarrassment to her husband, mother-in-law, daughter, and two sons. The overt, primary story line revolves around this woman and the struggle her family endures trying to get her into psychiatric treatment in Milan and then dealing with her mysterious disappearance.

Second, the story explores machismo and male dominance in native village cultures. The father Pietro is often compelled to act in socially prescribed ways, such as demanding complete obedience from his children, beating the children when they misbehave, not allowing his wife to converse with his brothers and buddies, and reacting strongly when his wife puts lipstick on local boys and when oldest son paints his mother's toe nails.

Third, under the primary story of a families reaction to a manic-depressive mother and to the social context of Italy, there is a deeper underlying story of an Oedipal struggle between a father and his eldest son for the love of the mother and the struggle to be her protector. Pietro and Grazia appear to be only around 18 years older than their daughter Marinella and maybe 20 years older than their son Pasquale (who seems to be around 15). The 35 year old Pietro is at the height of lusty manly power and loves his wife completely. Yet when he is pushed by family and neighbors to hospitalize her, it is her eldest son, Pasquale who comes to her rescue. Pasquale is fast leaving the world of boyhood behind and entering the mysterious world of adult sexuality. He struggles with the father, rarely overtly, usually covertly, to save the mother from hospitalization.

It is the resolution of this conflict that begins to dominate the second half of the film and which is the climax of the film. The beauty of the actors and scenery, the basic primal reactions to the struggle for village existence, and the life affirming and basic humanity of this film all come together into a magnificient production.
9 people found this helpful
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on March 9, 2014
Gariza does not fit in with her neighbors and in-laws in their Mediterranean paradise. She is a free spirit and none of the other adults have any patience with her and spread gossip about her. When she throws a temper tantrum after her son is spanked for almost putting another boy's eye out they give her a shot which settles her down (or maybe just puts her to sleep). It seems that these shots are given often to calm her down. There is strong pressure on her husband to have her sent to an institution in Milan.
I see Gariza's actions more as being childish rather than insane, which is what the town's people seem to be saying. Not that it is normal for a mother in her late 30's with three children to act so childish. I am guessing that the daughter was about 16 and the two boys who were about 14 and 12.
The activities of the boys in town are also a large part in the movie, at least in how they enter act with Pasquale, Gariza's older boy. The boys in town are divided into two groups. The groups fight with each other and when one group catches just a few members of the other group alone, they strip their rivals nude. This happens twice in the movie, each group at some point strips three boys of the other group. The parents don't seem to care about any of this activity, except for when one boy's eye is injured by a slingshot. However, the boys running around nude (after being stripped and left to return home nude) may not be as big a deal there as it would be in the US. Other then the full nudity, twice boys are seen swimming in their underwear in what appears to be a public area. On one of these occasions its Gariza's two boys swimming with her and she is also wearing only panties. The fact that she is swimming topless is seen as a big deal but not the two boys swimming in their underwear on a public beach. Gariza's two boys also sleep in their underwear and are seen walking around in their house and even just outside their house in just their underwear.
I found this movie a little strange and a little crazy, but in a way that made it fun. Its not an intriguing drama or a laugh-out-loud comedy, it is just a relaxing story to enjoy without giving it a lot of thought.
One person found this helpful
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on October 15, 2008
This is a fine evocation of small town tensions and family dynamics with, from my non-Scicilian perception, a resonant truth to it. The most positive reviewers have laid out the scenario, the location shots, and acting qualities with aplomb. So no need to recapitulate. I've only seen Golino a few times, but this is a role that could have been conceived with her in mind. The ramifications of her undiagnosed highs and lows drive the narrative. There is some consensual component undeveloped in her character, a missing chink that renders her, if not savant, then caopable of placing her own interests above any one else's. The teenage daughter is more'adult' than her mother, and the sons and husband are alternatively seduced by her charms, annoyed by her eccentric irresponsibility, and anxious about her vulnerablity. She's a portrait of the puer personality. The machismo and protectiveness of the male actors is pure Scicilian( from my experience in these parts)and poignantly, engagingly communicated. The youngest boy delivers a memorably haranguing speech when interceeding in a blooming affair between his older sister and a raw police recruit, freshly assigned to the island; pure Scicilian! Elsewhere a reviewer mentions the film's poetic symbolic structure. Unless the viewer enters into this dimension, much of the tale will remain opaque. And, in this poetic thrall, I heartily agree with comments about the brilliant underwater concluding shot. Reborn as a goddess the community can accept her in a way that no Milanese therapist could explain.Excellent movie!
One person found this helpful
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on January 30, 2018
Not authentic
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on March 31, 2016
great thanks
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on November 7, 2017
very enjoyable
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on July 20, 2016
Fast delivery but product over priced as it was an ex,library video taken from the issue. Probably due to a few naked boy bits,we're so PC now
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on December 2, 2011
... not in Shakespeare's Verona but on the small island of Lampedusa, where they are as tumultuous and ungovernable as ever. Lampedusa is an island of 20.2 square kilometers (7.8 sq mi), with a population of approximately 4,500 people. It has some agriculture and these days a lot of tourism, neither of which figure in the film "Respiro", which was released in 2003. It's also one of the major "transit" points for illegal immigration from Africa to the European Union, but that doesn't figure in the film either. The Lampedusans of "Respiro" are fishermen, in economic distress because of the declining fish stocks of the Mediterranean but not yet, at least as shown in this film, wretchedly impoverished. There's an intact, highly conservative, stubbornly xenophobic culture in Lampedusa, if the film can be believed. The people are impetuous, clannish, intolerant, distrustful of others, vengeful, prone to rage and violence. They have their charms and virtues, also, but "random acts of kindness" to themselves or to animals are not frequent. Just as in 'Romeo and Juliet", two gangs of adolescent boys wage relentless war against each other with fists and slingshots, for no apparent reason except as ritual practice at "onore" and "omertá" -- honor and secrecy, the prime mafioso virtues. Two boys of one gang have a mother, Grazia, who exhibits all the tempestuous traits of her people in hypertrophy. Her erratic behavior exceeds the unspoken norms and her neighbors begin to discuss sending her to a mental institution in Milano. Grazia, played very convincingly by actress Valeria Golino, hides in a cave to escape being sent away.

Italian "neorealismo" is alive and well, also. Certainly it was, in 2003. Except for the many advances in camera technology, this film could have been made by Fellini, Visconti, Rosselini, or Pasolini in the early 1950s. That statement is intended to be the highest praise. Neorealismo was the apogee in Italian cinema, and to say that "Respiro" is as powerful a film as "Rocco and His Brothers" is the ultimate accolade.

The marketing of this film is bizarrely deceptive. The DVD jacket waxes eloquent about the natural beauty of Lampedusa.. The Lampedusans "work and live hard - oblivious to their native paradise - and Grazia alone is courageous enough to blissfully embrace life's treasures" ... with her "wild, sensual and free-spirited behaviour." That's utter nonsense; it's not at all what the film depicts. Grazia is clinically bi-polar, "at risk" in the language of psychotherapy, potentially suicidal and dangerous to others, particularly to her older son with whom she has an "unhealthy" relationship. People around her know that she's mentally unstable; after all, her husband and mother-in-law keep a hypodermic loaded with tranquilizers on hand. This is a film that seriously questions the boundaries between cultural and individual dysfunction. Grazia threatens her community most because she is so obviously its fullest embodiment. She's disruptive. "She goes too far."

Bottom line: It's a stupendous film, one that should be far more well-known. And the photography of the sea-cliffs, the shallow waters, and the rocks below those waters is breathtaking. After you've seen Respiro, you have another treat in store: reading some of the reviews her on amazon, both the positives and the negatives. Uff! Something needs to be done in America, to encourage universal film literacy.
2 people found this helpful
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on September 28, 2014
fine
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