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Movie Review: Respiro

Story: Should a little thing like plot get in the way of your enjoyment of an otherwise terrific film? Ordinarily I would be the first one to scream YES. However, there are always exceptions, aren't there?

Italian director and writer Emanuele Crialese (Once We Were Strangers) heeds the call of his native Italy and returns to film this fable about the Island of Lampedusa (off the coast of Sicily) on location. The fable tells the story of a young woman who doesn't fit into a tight knit community and runs away, feigning death. The town's collective guilt and prayers bring the woman back from the sea and into the waiting arms of her family and village.

This simple tale rambles on a bit too much but the beautiful people, the fabulous landscape and the magical imagery that we witness are worth some of the drawbacks in the plot.

It made me want to phone Alitalia when I got home to book my next vacation -- or at least have a bowl of pasta (the heck with Dr. Atkins).

Acting: Valeria Golina (Rain Man) is simply terrific as the wife and mother who does not fit into the village's concept of normal. She is naturally beautiful and manages to speak volumes with a part that doesn't have much dialogue. Vincenzo Amato, is her husband is equally as stunning and talented to watch. The three kids who play her children are all beautiful and perfectly cast.

Predilection: I love all things Italian and I like stories about redemption.

Critters: The villagers earn their living as fisherman. So we have lots of fish both as critters and as food. And alas, there are lots and lots of dogs. The dogs are not treated well on this otherwise idyllic island. They are locked up for their eventual demise. The children who run unsupervised all over this island seem to take the place of the feral dogs.

Food: It is Italy - of course there is food.

Visual Art: Stunning natural landscape takes the place of visual art in this film.

Blatant Product Placement: Vespa

Soundtrack: Terrific.

Opening Titles: I don't remember any opening titles.

Theater Audience: Very crowded with a UN-Matrix kind of crowd.

Quirky Meter: 2

Squirm Scale: 5 - I did not like what happened to the island's dogs.

Predictability Level: I was not familiar with the fable but figured out what was going to happen anyway.

Oscar Worthy: It did win an award at last year's Cannes festival.

Nit Picking: Who can complain about sunny Italy?

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure - to soak in all of the lusciousness of Italy and its people.

Length: 90 minutes.