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Leopardi (2014)

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Reviews

9/10: Fascinating and beautifully made historical drama
Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mario Martone's biographical film about the early 19th century poet, philosopher and philologist Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) is handsomely shot with lovely period detail and good performances based around an intriguing central character. Highly regarded as a major literary figure in Italy, Leopardi is however not as well-known elsewhere and if you're not familiar with the philosopher, Il Giovane Favoloso doesn't give you much more than a broad sense of the nature of his ideas and his writing and little sense of the scale or importance of his achievements. It does however give a compelling portrait of the man.In the broader sense of the nature of Leopardi's poems and philosophy however, you certainly get the impression that it's deeply pessimistic, pondering the nature of living, love and death with a wistful melancholic tone, if not even rather grim and bleak in its outlook. Although Leopardi denies it in the film, some part of...

9/10: A life of poetry successfully transformed to cinematic beauty and realism
Monday, May 4, 2015

This is a breathtakingly beautiful film, doing justice both to the unfathomable tragedy of the poet and his whereabouts, character, relationships and experiences, with a fascinating conclusion in Naples of apocalyptic scenery aptly illustrating the almost Goya-like dark world of Leopardi's visionary imagination. Some of the best scenes show some of his outbursts, which pinpoint his case: at one point in a tavern he hits the nail by resoundingly demonstrating that his dark poetry has nothing to do with his terrible physical condition but is only pure poetry of the mind and nothing else. All the acting is superb, and the bold experiment of using modern music, or at least more music made today than in the 1800s, is intelligently successful. The temptation is great to give this a full 10 point score, but it's at least 9.5 for certain. At first you suspect there will be no real story, that it will be like a...

8/10: The rebellious poet
Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hard to sum up the tormented and passionate human experience of Giacomo Leopardi, one of Italy's finest artistic minds and souls, and hard to do it without slipping into easy pathos and sentimental triteness, without playing and indulging with the innate melancholy of the poet's world view, to lever on the audience's feelings and appeal to them, the cheapest way. But Martone's eye seems to have no interest in focusing on that aspect. Although the narration is in no way dry, the director lets the poet (portrayed by a wonderful Elio Germano) speaks for himself. Poetry comes alive, and through poetry, line after line, recited to the night sky, to the moon, to the "native wild village"'s roofs, to a dead love fantasy, recited in the grass of his "lonely hill", to the infinite, romantic wilderness of nature and space; through poetry we see Giacomo: a hungry soul, a restless mind, a rebel, a restless...

8/10: 19th Century Romantics Alert
Friday, September 12, 2014

If you like the idea of traveling to Italy and also of watching period costume dramas, this pick may be for you. I ate it up. I thought the main performance was astonishing and you will rarely see a film which takes better advantage of fabulous locations throughout Italy which appear to just unfurl as scenery miraculously still in existence despite the passage of more than 150 years.I did not know this poet at all and yet I definitely enjoyed this poetic film. Although I was the only one in the theater who laughed at regular intervals, I think you might find some underlying wit in all the melancholy. Rarely has the cage of being upper class been so well depicted in film. If you want to feel sorry for the independently wealthy nobility of Italy, this film will lay it all out for you.As a fan of Jane Austin and most of the films made of her...

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