Run time: 109 mins
In Theaters: Friday 27th October 2000
Distributed by: Miramax
Production compaines: Miramax Films, Medusa Produzione
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 34
IMDB: 7.5 / 10
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Producer: Carlo Bernasconi
Screenwriter: Giuseppe Tornatore
Starring: Monica Bellucci as Malena Scordia, Giuseppe Sulfaro as Renato Amoroso, Luciano Federico as Renato's Father, Matilde Piana as Renato's Mother, Pietro Notarianni as Professor Bonsignore, Gaetano Aronica as Nino Scordia, Gilberto Idonea as Avvocato Centorbi, Angelo Pellegrino as Segretario politico, Gabriella Di Luzio as Mantenuta del Barone, Pippo Provvidenti as Dott. Cusimano, Maria Terranova as Moglie Dott. Cusimano, Marcello Catalano as Lieutenant Cadel, Elisa Morucci as Lupetta, Domenico Gennaro as Farmacista, Vitalba Andrea as Moglie farmacista, Giuseppe Pattavina as Pretore, Franco Catalano as Negoziante, Daniele Arena as Agostino, Giovanni Litrico as Pinè, Gianluca Guarrera as Nicola, Michel Daniel Bramanti as Sasà, Giuseppe Zizzo as Tanino, Totò Borgese as Milite fascista, Emanuele Gullotto as Negoziante dischi, Aurora Quattrocchi as Tenutaria bordello, Claudia Muzi as 1a Prostituta, Ornella Giusto as 2a Prostituta, Conchita Puglisi as 3a Prostituta, Noemi Giarratana as Sorella Renato, Paola Pace as 1a Donna linciaggio, Lucia Sardo as 2a Donna linciaggio
The story is seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old boy named Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro ), who is growing up in a small Sicilian village during the World War II. For a good three-fourths of the film, the local beauty Malèna (Monica Bellucci), the object of desire for the entire village, monotonously parades through streets and piazzas with cow-like indifference, followed by Renato and his gang of friends.
Malèna's beauty begets lust in all the men in the village and hatred in all women. When Germans enter the town, she becomes what everyone always wanted her to be -- a whore. She dyes her hair red, then blonde, and continues to parade about, only now with clients. Once the war is over, the crazed villagers demand Malèna to leave. They even throw stones at her -- and my, what a gratuitous, tiring, and boring scene that is. A truly reflective soul might be able to see, beyond all this hullabaloo, what Tornatore wanted to say about society's need for a scapegoat. If that truly is the morality of the film, well, it's as disturbing and disappointing as the movie itself.
Everything Fellini had once done with phantasmagoric flair -- the ridicule of the school system and the priggishness of the Church, the adolescent obsession with masturbation -- Tornatore turns into a vulgar spectacle of screams and slaps. Renato's insatiable longings, for example, are expressed as laughable clichés: When he peeps at Malèna at night, she is dancing around the house in a black, lacy nightgown with a portrait of her husband (away to fight in WWII) pressed patriotically to her chest. Consistently throughout the film, the camera dives in and out in a way that makes every scene seem crowded, rushed, and out of control.
The only explanation I can fathom for Malèna's distribution in the U.S. is that Tornatore is still living off the fame he received after making Cinema Paradiso. If you really want to see a coming-of-age story that takes place in a small Italian town during Il Duce's regime, treat yourself and rent Amarcord. It is a masterpiece. Malèna is an absurdity.