Synopsis by Mark Deming
A young man's infatuation for a beautiful older woman blooms amidst the outbreak of World War II in this bittersweet comedy-drama from Italy. Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) is a 13-year-old boy growing up in a small Sicilian community. Mussolini has risen to power and has declared war upon England and France, but Renato has other things on his mind -- mostly girls. While hanging out with his friends by the seashore, Renato spies Malèna (Monica Bellucci), the daughter of one of his schoolteachers, whose husband Nino (Gaetano Aronica) is fighting with Mussolini's army. Renato is immediately obsessed with Malèna and follows her like a lost puppy, spying on her whenever circumstances permit and imagining her as his co-star in elaborate erotic fantasies inspired by his favorite movies. Renato, however, is hardly the only man in town to be struck by Malèna's charms, and her beauty leads to resentment from the women of the community. Malèna's circumstances take a turn for the worst after her husband is reported to have died in combat, and she is forced to resort to prostitution to survive; she is brutally attacked by a pack of angry matrons and driven from town. Renato tries to keep track of her, and has some less than encouraging news to report when Nino turns out to be alive and finds his spouse is missing. Malèna was written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, best known for the art-house hit Nuovo Cinema Paradiso; Malèna was released in Europe at 106 minutes, while the American version was edited by ten minutes to tighten the pace and remove nudity and sexual material considered too strong for the U.S. marketplace.
community, crush, husband, prostitute/prostitution, Sicilian, soldier, teenagers, war