Il Giovane Favoloso



Director: Mario Martone; Main Cast: Elio Germano, Michele RiondinoMassimo PopolizioIsabella RagoneseAnna MouglalisEdoardo NatoliValerio Binasco;

The life and struggles of Giacomo Leopardi, Italian poet and philosopher of the early 19th century. We follow Giacomo (Germano) from his early, intense studies in his childhood’s home in Recanati, under the tutelage of priests and rigidly supervised by his father Montaldo (Popolizio), reactionary and narrow minded, to the time he spent in Florence, Rome and Naples, where he met (and established few life-long friendships) with historians, classicists, poets and intellectuals. His youth in Recanati, although plagued by both physical and emotional ailments, is sweetened by the presence of his younger siblings Carlo (Natoli) and Paolina (Ragonese), playmates and allies who lighten the burden of suffocating and controlling parents. The fire of rebellion is ignited by the visit of Pietro Giordano (Binasco), a classicist, with whom Giacomo has been exchanging letters over the years, keeping alive their friendship and fruitful collaboration. After a failed attempt to escape his stifling, oppressing home, it will take Giacomo a few more years to finally be free to roam the world (well, just Italy, as it turns out). The story moves then to the final years of Giacomo’s life. We find him in Florence, living with his good friend Antonio Ranieri (Riondino), writer and free-thinker exiled from his native Naples for his political views. Antonio is quite the opposite of Giacomo: charming and outgoing, at ease in social gatherings and with the ladies. Giacomo’s inner pain and his deteriorating health are the roots of his pessimistic view of the world that set him apart from his contemporaries. He is criticised and shunned by other intellectuals, not only in Florence but also in Rome and Naples, where the two friends moved, in an attempt at finding a more suitable environment for the fragile poet. One flaw of the film is the lack of details about the complex political situation in Italy at the time, which was entwined with the literary world and a key element in Leopardi’s life. Throughout the film there are explicit and implicit references to his poems and other writings which, although very beautiful, might not be fully appreciated by viewers unfamiliar with his work. Elio Germano gives a spellbinding performance as the sickly but brilliant poet and Michele Riondino is quite effective as the roguishly charming but loyal friend. The sure hand of Mario Martone at the helm, the supporting cast, the beautiful photography and production design contribute as well to make this film a little gem. Enchanting —7.5/10


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