Out this week is Sicilian Ghost Story directed by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza. This film is based on true events involving the kidnapping of a young boy from a village due to his father’s betrayal of an Italian mafia family.
The film centres around two characters, Giuseppe (Gaetano Fernandez) the young boy who is kidnapped and Luna (Julia Jedlikowska) who is a fictional character injected into the story to give, what the directors felt Giuseppe deserved, love. These two are best friends with a clear love of each other and when Giuseppe is kidnapped Luna is the only one to try and figure out what happened. The film follows Luna as she tries to figure out what to do all the while giving the audience a parallel storyline with Giuseppe and his captors.
There is a theme of rebellion that streaks through the film and its characters. From Giuseppe and his captors to Luna and her overbearing mother, the fire of rebellion is strong in the characters. This is needed for both characters as it is what helps them both survive in their respective prisons.
The biggest positive I can offer this film is in the shape of its two young leads. They are astounding. Both give deeply moving performances. The film demands so much from them but they rise to the challenge and leave a lasting impression. As well as the Giuseppe and Luna the intimate cast also has some interesting performances including a character Luna meets in the second act. A young boy who for a brief moment lets her forget that someone she deeply cares about is missing. it’s this brief respite that allows for the film to balance between its graceful yet brutal nature.
There is also the impressive cinematography that continues the brutal yet artistic grace of the film. The scenery, in particular, is gorgeous and has an otherworldly element to it. Coupling it with the dual narrative of what Luna imagines is happening to Giuseppe and what is actually happening to Giuseppe adds a tense element to the film.
The symbolism and surreal nature of Sicilian Ghost Story are commendable but at times they detract from the overall quality of the film because you may not understand what’s happening. Whether something is real or not is not always explained well and it’s a shame because it took me out of the film several times to try and figure it out.
Sicilian Ghost Story is a love letter to a young unloved boy who fell victim to a horrifying time in Italian history by two brilliant directors. It’s otherworldly nature and the powerful subject matter is deeply impactful.