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La meglio gioventuBeautiful Italian film


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#1 Estelle

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Posted 29 July 2003 - 06:43 AM

Yesterday I saw the second part of the Italian film "La meglio gioventu" (its French title was "Nos meilleurs années", which means "Our best years", but I think the original title means something like "The best of youth", it is also the title of a book of poems by Pier Paolo Pasolini), by Marco Tullio Giordana. It is a very long film, as originally it was made as a miniseries for the Italian public TV channel RAI: it lasts six hours, and so is cut in two parts of three-hours. But for me there was not a second of boredom in those six hours- and actually when the second part ended I even wished it had been longer, because one feels so close to the characters that it's hard to tell them "good bye"... :FIREdevil: It won a prize at the Cannes Festival a few months ago, in the "Un certain regard" section.

The main two characters are two brothers, Nicola and Matteo Carati, and the film follows them between 1966 (when they try helping Giorgia, a young woman with mental problems who is ill-treated in a psychiatric hospital- and both of them more or less fall in love with her...) and 2003. Many important events of Italy's history are evoked in the film, some tragic ones like the terrible flooding of Florence in 1966, the terrorism of the "Red Brigades" in the 1970s and 1980s or the murder of judge Giovanni Falcone in Sicily by the Mafia in 1992, and also some lighter ones like some matches of the Italian team in the soccer world cups- but this is integrated into the story in a very clever way, it doesn't feel artificial. All the actors (most of whom come from theater and haven't done much cinema so far, with the exception of the mother played by Adriana Asti who has played for many famous film directors like Visconti, Fellini, Pasolini, Bertolucci...) are excellent, and the characters are depicted with much humanity and sensitiveness. There are a lot of moving scenes- take your handkerchiefs for the second part...

Well, I have no idea if this film is shown in other countries than France (and as far as I know it hasn't been shown yet on the Italian TV) but if you have an opportunity to see it, don't miss it!

PS: here's the only review of it in English that I found so far:
http://www.guardian....,960327,00.html

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 29 July 2003 - 07:44 AM

Thank you, Estelle. I'll certainly keep an occhio out for this film.

#3 Estelle

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Posted 29 July 2003 - 10:33 AM

You're welcome, Farrell Fan. B) And actually seeing this film made me wish I could understand Italian (I also get the same impression when being in Italian restaurants
:grinning: ), well, that's yet another thing to add on my "things to be done someday" list...

#4 grace

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Posted 29 July 2003 - 03:00 PM

thanks estelle. six hours is really daunting, but i too will keep an eye out for this one. was it shown in one sitting?

#5 vila

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 02:18 AM

Oh I am so glad you mentioned this film, I 've been wanting to see it for a while but my motivation factor has been deeply increased by your post. I am now quite decided to spend my Saturday between the Champs Elysées and St Germain (with a 2 hur break in between) in order to catch the 2 parts on the same day ! :wub: Thanks Estelle.

#6 Estelle

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Posted 15 August 2003 - 03:20 PM

So vila, did you manage to see it? And did you like it? :)

grace, it is shown in two parts of three hours each (I saw them on different days). But I really didn't find it too long (and the reaction of the audience was quite enthusiastic).

#7 vila

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 08:02 AM

Sorry about not answering earlier Estelle, I was travelling …
Yes I did see it : did a mega-“La meglio gioventu-thon” on the Saturday following your post; first part in the early afternoon and the second one in the evening, in another cinema. The performances are outstanding, the characters subtle and the story both incredibly moving and compelling… Nicola, Carlo, Giorgia, Matteo, the parents… everybody just grows on you….And despite the unfavourable conditions in which I saw the second part (no AC in cinéma in the middle of our summer heatwave and full theatre) I indeed do not want the film to end… The audience was really in sync, something I hadn’t witnessed in a movie theatre for some time, and a fair sharing of packs of Kleenex was going on…The film has enjoyed a fair “bouche à oreille” success … The other day I was at a dinner party where somebody mentioned the film and actually all of the people at the table -save 3 (of a party of 12) had seen it…and had enjoyed it much …
Happy viewings to those who will have the opportunity to see La meglio gioventu (do not be put off by the “family saga”/tv series aspect –I was weary off that- there is so much more to this movie.

#8 Estelle

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Posted 10 September 2003 - 04:46 AM

Happy viewings to those who will have the opportunity to see La meglio gioventu (do not be put off by the “family saga”/tv series aspect –I was weary off that- there is so much more to this movie.

I'm glad that you finally could see it, and that you liked it! :)

I agree that the "family saga/ tv series" can be a bit worrying, considering the poor quality of such sagas on most of the French TV channels in summer (lots of stereotypes, mediocre acting and filming, plots filled with unbelievable coincidences...) but that one really was different. After seeing it I often found myself thinking about it, remembering the characters and all the little details of the plot (not to mention Matteo's beautiful eyes :wub )

It seems to have been fairly successful indeed, especially when one considers that it was released in summer which generally isn't a good period for films in France, and that it was shown only in a handful on cinemas (by the way, in case you'd like to see it a second time, it still is shown in three cinemas in Paris: UGC les Halles, Saint-Germain des Prés and Balzac). But I regret that it was not shown much outside of Paris, I'm sure some of my relatives would have loved it if they could have seen it but it was not shown where they live. Now I'll just have to wait until there is a DVD... ;)

Have you seen some films by Robert Guédiguian? "Nos meilleures années" made me think about some of his movies, which also have a lot of characters (and in his case, always with the same group of actors for more than two decades) and some kind of empathy with them, but in his case instead of various Italian cities it focuses very much on Marseille, and especially on l'Estaque.

#9 vila

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Posted 11 September 2003 - 07:52 AM

It is quite strange Estelle, but I have never ever actually seen a Guédiguian, even stranger since I am quite fond of his actors : Daroussin, Ascaride etc…
Hopefully I shall repair this “oversight” soon, I actually seem to remember that he’s got 2 films to be released shortly, well before end 2003 if all goes to plan : one on the final years of Mitterrand (with Michel Bouquet) and another one called Mon père est ingénieur.

I was wondering, does Guédiguian have a following abroad ? I suppose it’s very “art housy”, but wondering is his work is fairly known …

#10 Estelle

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Posted 11 September 2003 - 10:45 AM

vila, I didn't know that some Guédiguian movies would be released soon, thanks for the information!

I've seen a handful of them- some on the "happy" side like "Marius et Jeannette" (another common point with "La meglio gioventu" is that it was made for TV initially, for the channel Arte) and "L'argent fait le bonheur", and some darker ones like "A la vie à la mort", "La ville est tranquille" (a good film but very hard to see for me, with several shocking scenes), "Marie-Jo et ses deux amours"...

I don't know if Guédiguian is known outside France, even in France he wasn't well known (and his films weren't shown widely) before "Marius et Jeannette" in 1997.

#11 Estelle

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 02:45 PM

I had planned to post it earlier, but had forgotten to do so: "Les meilleures années" won the 2003 Prize for the best foreign film of the listeners of the weekly cultural radio program "Le Masque et la Plume" :) (about six thousand people sent a postcard to vote, I had forgotten to send mine but would have voted for it), the oldest French radio program (created in 1954). The following films in the ranking were Gus Van Sant's "Elephant", Lars Von Trier's "Elephant", Wolfgang Becker's "Good bye, Lenin" and
(ex-aequo) Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" and Denys Arcand's "Les invasions barbares", while the prize for the best French film was for Lucas Belvaux's trilogy "Un couple épatant", "Après la vie" and "Cavale" (just before Sylvain Chomet "Les triplettes de Belleville", Julie Bertuccelli's "Depuis qu'Otar est parti" and André Téchiné's "Les égarés").

The previous recent winners of the prize for the foreign film were in 2002 Ari Kaurismaki's "A man without a past", in 2001 David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" and in 2000 Wong Kar Wai's "In the mood for love".

"Nos meilleures années" still is shown in two cinemas in Paris, and a DVD of it will be available next month.

PS: a review of it in English:

http://query.nytimes...753C1A9659C8B63


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