Thirteen year old Luna is in love with Giuseppe, a school friend of hers. Just when their relationship is finally about to blossom and after the fateful first kiss, the boy disappears into thin air. Giuseppe, the son of a repentant mafia, was kidnapped and locked up in an isolated cottage, for the purpose of blackmailing his father.
While the whole town gives in to a climate of silence, Luna is not resigned and is determined to find her potential boyfriend at any cost, although no one – including the parents – seems willing to listen to it and indeed sees the obstinacy of the protagonist sideways. He is also the protagonist victim of dreams / visions that concern Giuseppe himself.
Ghosts never forgotten
The disenchanted approach, from a mystical fairy tale ready to channel itself into much more earthly and tragic territories, is also the most inspired and suitable to tell one of the new generations cases of crime that most shocked Italy in the 90sor rather the brutal kidnapping of Giuseppe Di Matteo.
Already in the title Sicilian Ghost Story highlights an alien approach to typical genre productions on the crimes committed by our local underworld and in adapting the story A white knight – written by Marco Mancassola – proceeds on a path closer to fantastic cinema.
Without bringing up uncomfortable comparisons, on a conceptual level we find ourselves in the parts of Il labirinto del fauno (2006) by Guillermo del Toro, with the fairy context that adapts with incredible harmony even to the blackest pages of the story.
Between (dis) illusions and reality
And if the hope of witnessing an ucronic evolution in the wake of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood (2019) is bitterly disregarded, the reasons for redemption and the fight against injustice find an ideal embodiment in the fictional character by Luna.
A rebellious girl ready to break the conventions of an archaic Sicily, so as to color his hair bright blue in a potential quote a Adele 's life (2013) and to remember physiognomically and in character the Eleven of Stranger Things, and which symbolizes the hope of an "other" and better tomorrow.
THE directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza, already authors of the acclaimed Salvo (2013), opt for an evocative direction that aspires in certain situations to Tarkovsky's style, with long shots in plan-sequence that rotate on themselves and a pregnant attention to the environmental and naturalistic context, the real central element of the story and to the center of symbolic and metaphorical choices.
Self the deafening silence that characterizes one of the highlights of the finale, with the aquatic depths the theater of the most unspeakable horror, it is clear to everyone, the idea of exploiting the scenographic context of the temple of Selinunte has a precise meaning: in fact there were in the past sacrifices to the gods.
The dreamlike and visionary ecstasy then offers suggestive and evocative glimpses, able to dampen the most grim phases of the story which, even if only freely inspired by real facts, make their appearance in a crescendo of tension where the horror, hidden in the representation of violence, still becomes palpable and painful.
And the idea of facing such a complex and excruciating affair through the path of a modern coming-of-age turns out to be (av) successful, managing to permeate shades the path bristling with thorns and full of tears trampled by the tenacious protagonist.
In this regard it deserves one honorable mention the interpretation of the very young Julia Jedlikowska, of Polish-Palermitan origins, which shows a remarkable maturity in a role that is not at all simple.
She is the spearhead of an otherwise swinging cast, often emphasized on dialectal tones that more than realism end up imparting a partial sense of superficiality.
This, combined with some sporadic narrative inaccuracies, does not affect in any way the charm of a precious and magnetic work, touching and courageous in attempting a path rarely taken by Italian cinema.