Malena (2000) Poster


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Viva Tornatore!
paulcreeden22 January 2001
I found the film to be visually hypnotic and very moving. I was also impressed with the film maker's story telling technique. The film brought me into the bustling street life of the Sicilian village by eye-level camera work and the comments of the people in crowded scenes, through which I was taken with the characters. Just like walking down a busy urban street anywhere with your ears and eyes open. The film made me wake up to the fact that so much American film, perhaps all contemporary film, is composed mainly of close ups with two or a few people. Not this film. There is a sequence with airplanes overhead that is absolutely dizzying without any fancy 3-D or pyrotechnic effects. Mr. Tornatore brilliantly uses silent stares, pairs of eyes and silly dream sequences with amazing effect. The male lead, an adolescent boy, is portrayed with great empathy by Giuseppe Sulfaro without schmaltz or sanitizing, so typical in American films about puberty. The title role, played well by a dazzling Monica Bellucci, could have been written for a young Sophia Loren. (My dream sequence, I guess) My favorite character was Renato's father, hilariously played by Luciano Federico. A must see.
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More than just Monica.
LegionAvalon28 November 2010
On the face of it, this movie is about a young boy's fantasies as he falls in love with the image of an older woman. I say 'image' because he doesn't know her at all to begin with, but as he watches, her increasingly sad truth is seen through his eyes.

It's also about Sicily during the war, but deeper than that, to me, it seems to be about the mob mind, jealousy and hatred and about how people tend to become what is expected of them, or don't.

Monica Bellucci is undeniably among the sexiest women alive and her near wordless performance is mesmerising. My only criticism is the somewhat stereotypical way that the 'men' are portrayed. Perhaps there's some truth that we are all driven from an area below the waist, but I'd like to think it's not true of all of us.

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Cinematographic Symphony
lkil19 June 2004
Malena is a beautiful and deeply touching film. It is a masterful combination of sites, sounds and colors. The two leading actors (Monica Bellucci and Giuseppe Sulfaro) are simply excellent at what they are supposed to convey in this movie. Apart from her truly majestic elegance, Monica Bellucci invests her character (Malena) with an aura of tragedy, of some profound and unrelenting emotional trauma and pain which remains unspoken throughout the film and reaches its climax at the very end. Malena's stunningly beautiful eyes remain constantly downcast, and her face -- tense and pierced through by psychic pain (she rarely raises her face, let alone speaks words). Renato (the teenage boy) wins his audience by his incredibly pure and valiant love for Malena (this affection he carries in his heart for several years). She becomes his muse, his courage, his sense of honor, his whole rationale for confronting difficult and disruptive life of the war-torn Italy. I agree completely with another commentator who said that the ending of the movie is perhaps one of the most genuinely melancholic moments in modern cinematography. Simply brilliant. Superb music! This movie should be watched several times to be fully appreciated.
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Hell hath no fury like relentless gossip.
Anonymous_Maxine21 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Malena is a film that gives the impression that there are no innocent parties. The men are guilty of dirty, lustful thoughts (and some of more than just thoughts), the women are guilty of gossip, violence and probably more than a little envy, and Malena is guilty of being a homewrecker. But in looking back at the movie it seems that what caused the problems were two things – gossip and something like insecurity.

Roger Ebert wrote probably the most idiotic review I've ever seen him come out with about this movie. He missed the point of this movie even more than he missed the point of Memento, and his review of that movie was like a blind man describing a shooting star. He describes Malena as a schoolteacher "of at least average intelligence, who must be aware of her effect on the collective local male libido, but seems blissfully oblivious."

Roger, seriously, are you joking? BLISSFULLY?? Did you sleep through this movie?

She almost never speaks at all and never displays even the slightest hint of a smile. Given the extent of her depression and stifling sadness, it is astounding to me that anyone in their right mind could attach the word "blissfully" to any element of her character.

I know what that's like though, because sometimes I completely miss something about a movie and I think that something else is the stupidest thing in the world because of it, at least until someone explains what I missed and then it all makes sense. Watch Malena, for example, walking through the central square in town at any point in the movie. If you think she keeps her eyes on the ground directly in front of her because she is in a state of pure, ignorant bliss, then trust me. You are missing something.

I don't know if Malena was actually unaware of the effect that she had on the townspeople, but I find it nearly impossible to believe that she did. That thought actually never even occurred to me until I read Roger Ebert's gem of a review. Her behavior struck me much more like someone who had been dealing with such behavior from the men around for her whole life. I doubt very much that she doesn't understand the concepts of human physical attraction.

Moving on. Set against the backdrop of World War II reminded me of Life is Beautiful, especially given the uncertain mix of comedy and tragedy. It wasn't as powerful on both sides here as in Life is Beautiful, but it was truly heartbreaking to see Malena suffering and trying to ignore the increasing tension that was being generated around her.

It's hard to say that she was a victim of her own beauty, but it was really what drove all of the conflict in the story. The women at first seemed to be upset with their husbands because of their stares, and things got worse and worse because of the endless gossip which seemed to monopolize the talk of the entire town. If anyone was talking about anything, it had something to do with the latest sexual escapades of Malena.

Women would not sell her good food at the town market, so she had to get it from men who expected things in return. There was a scene where an officer was at her home, but I don't think there was any indication that they had sex. It was clear that he was more interested than she was, and later it was her that wound up in court for having an amorous relationship with a married man in uniform. The courtroom performance of Malena's lawyer, by the way, is one of the highlights of the movie.

I'm not really sure how to feel about the women involved in the climax of their collective hatred of Malena, because surely Malena did not sleep with the husband of every woman involved, and of those whose husbands committed no crime other than looking at a beautiful woman, what did they then think of their wives, who would do such a thing out of pure jealousy and envy? I'm a man myself; so I can't speak from a woman's point of view, but if your husband cheats on you, take it out on him. Don't go and beat up the subject of his affections, especially if it is nothing more than a beautiful woman that he looked at. Imagine all of the attractive women beaten up without knowing why.

Weaving his way throughout all of this chaos is Renato, a 12-year-old boy who has conceptualized Malena as the ideal woman in all ways. He sees himself as her protector, desperate to save her from the tension that he sees growing around her, the unfair antagonism that is being leveled at her, for really no fault of her own. His identification of Malena as the subject of his developing sexuality reminded me of another great film, The Hairdresser's Husband. If you liked this, see that one, too. Oh and if you're Roger Ebert, maybe watch this one again.

And stay awake this time.
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What a beautiful surprise.
sbekam11 January 2001
What a beautiful surprise. I loved Malena for its honesty, simplicity and the way it portrayed the life of the young boy in the early 40's. It reminded my of a lot of good movies I have seen throughout my life. Malena is one of those movies that gets stuck in your mind. I enjoyed the movie very much and recommend it to all.
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The girl in the villa
jotix1005 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In a way, "Malena" kept reminding us of a famous photograph by Ruth Orkin, in which a young American woman is seen walking alone in an Italian street where there must be at least twenty men ogling this beautiful beautiful creature in different degrees of desire, shouting things about what they would love to do with her.

In Giuseppe Tornatore's "Malena", the young woman at the center of the story, suffers that kind of sexual predatory practice from all the men in the little town in Sicily where she lives. It appears Italian men, then, as well as now, can express anything at all, especially for their big friends' benefit, their opinions of how they feel about a woman. Even the town's ladies have no qualms in shouting nasty things as Malena passes them by.

If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you would like to stop reading.

The film takes place during the last days of WWII. Malena's husband has gone to war, but he never returns. She is left to fend for herself under the most extreme circumstances. In order to make ends meet, all the men in town offer Malena anything so they can get favors from her in return.

Watching all this is Renato, a young man who has reached puberty and is completely taken by Malena's beauty. Renato follows this woman all over the town. Whenever Malena is coming into view, Renato abandons his bicycle and makes a point to pass near this gorgeous creature almost breathing her aura.

A lot of people in this forum have expressed their views in making "Malena" a coming of age film. But contrary to what they might take, Mr. Tornatore, its director, like most film makers in Europe are influenced by the politics and the history of their country. In here, it appears that Malena stands for the way Italy was manipulated by Mussolini in transforming the country into a fascist paradise. Also Malena, like Italy, is turned into a prostitute in the eyes of many Italians, who watched their beloved country invaded by the Germans, who were supposed to be their allies.

"Malena" is a film that is blessed by the presence of that amazingly beautiful actress Monica Belucci. Ms. Belucci is perfect for the title role and runs away with the film. In one of the most hear wrenching scenes in this movie, we watch in horror as the other women in town have their revenge in punishing Malena for what they perceive are her sins and her collaboration with the enemy.

Young Giuseppe Sulfaro is seen as the appealing Renato Amoroso, the young man awakening to his own sexuality. He lives just to spy on the woman that has captured his imagination, and even in his solitary gratification she plays a large role in his vivid imagination.

"Malena" owes a lot to Giuseppe Tornatore for what he has been able to accomplish.
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Beautiful and sad film
carpediem763 February 2006
I do not remember who, but some critic, complained about not knowing what Malena thought and not being able to see her act and speak more in a movie...

I am sure all of us, especially in our childhoods, were once so deeply infatuated by another human being, that they were as sacred and as untouchable to us as Da Vinci's Giaconda.

That is why Malena is portrayed as a work of art who always looks down, burdened by her beauty. We can only suspect what she feels and we can enjoy the sight of her sad gorgeous face.

And absolutely no words are necessary!

This film compliments the saying: BE BORN HAPPY RATHER THAN BEAUTIFUL

I do agree that Monica Belucci, who I consider to be the most beautiful actress alive and one of the most enchanting beauties in the world, was perfect for this part!
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Very good
zetes20 July 2015
Sicily, 1940. A teenage boy (Giuseppe Sulfaro) is initiated into manhood when his friends introduce him to the glories of Malena (Monica Belluci), the most beautiful woman in town. Sulfaro becomes obsessed, following her wherever she goes on his bike, and he even spies on her in her home. His obsession is not the only one, as much as he wishes and wants to believe it were - the whole town worships her. Every man wants to have her, and every woman is deeply jealous of that fact. And, man, does that make life hard for Malena - her husband is fighting the war in Africa, and the rumors are flying, making life nearly impossible. Sulfaro might see her as a sex object initially, but the more he observes the more he sympathizes. This film begins as an enjoyable comedy, but it grows deeply serious. The climax is one of the harshest, most potent sequences I've seen in a long while. One will recognize the nostalgic tone of the movie if you're familiar with Cinema Paradiso, but I think this is actually a stronger film. Excellent.
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A film which practically has everything; some funny moments,some touching ones, and also features the Most Beautiful Creature Ever Set Foot On Earth: Monica Bellucci!
Mitsaso_X12 June 2004
The first time I got to watch this utterly beautiful film, I knew nothing of the awesomeness of Giusseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso) or the ethereal beauty of Monica Bellucci.

Well, all the needed knowledge flooded my mind within the two hours I spent watching Malena. It's a coming-of-age film, set in the World War 2 years in a small town of Sicily. The main lead is a young boy named Renato, and through his perfectly understandable obsession of a married woman named Malena (there couldn't be a more perfect cast than Monica Bellucci in this role),we get to see him maturing over a few years time. Most of the team focuses on Malena of course, but it's all through Renato's eyes (he's stalking her all the time), and his affection for her. It's no wonder that all males in the town (even teenagers) mostly view her as a hot piece of meat, but this boy's pure love is what eventually makes the difference in his (and her) life.

The ending credits will leave you with the "life goes on" aftermath and possibly the strongest feeling of melancholy you ever achieved from a movie.

Great cinematography, excellent performances from Monica Bellucci(though she barely speaks throughout the film) and the boy playing Renato, amazing score by the grand Maestro Ennio Morricone (nominated for an Oscar), this film has become my absolute favourite and Monica Bellucci my most recent (and strongest) obsession! A perfect 10, though it might seem over the top to a few of you.
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The battle, the bike, the boy and the babe.
shanfloyd8 May 2006
Maléna is a wonderfully crafted, mature and subtle tale of dedication, passion and true realization of beauty. The fantastic story revolves around the teenage boy Renato, ever on his bicycle, who falls in a rather platonic love with the town's beauty Maléna. I use the word 'platonic' because I felt Renato's passions towards Maléna's outstanding sexual beauty were mostly of profound appreciation, not just his own voluntary arousal of his sexuality, though the film has many scenes of his musterbation. And all these happens when Italy went to the World War.

Expressions of the War came in every aspect of the film, even in Renato's feelings towards Malena or the hatred towards those men who wanted her. Guiseppe Sulfaro did an outstanding job in this extremely demanding role. My hats off to him. The goddess-like Monica Bellucci rarely looks up or speaks in this film. Besides providing the audience the guilty pleasures, she did a wonderful job in creating the aura of sadness and melancholy around her character. I considered hers is a fine piece of acting.
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It's allegory people...
thepetshopboy10 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Saw this in 2000 at a special Italian consulate screening in LA at which Tornatore spoke afterwards (and before a directors cut of Cinema Paradiso). After reading so many critical reviews I just wanted to note that Tornatore describes this film not as a "coming of age" picture (that in essence is what Paradiso is) but rather an allegory of Italy's foray into war and fascism as seen through the eyes of an innocent (in this case Tornatore himself). Malena represents all that Italy was and is to him, both beautiful, easily misled, and misunderstood, and the climatic scene in which she is beaten down is in essence what happened to the country post Mussolini and WWII. Watch it again with this concept in mind and your view of the film will dramatically alter.
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Slightly overrated but excellent all the same...
Lorna19866 December 2004
When this movie was released the buzz was huge... Mostly because it starred the walking-talking male fantasy, Monica Bellucci. It did the rounds around various Film Festivals and even the most skeptical critics were won over. They were won over by many things... The scenery is stunning, making you feel like you're really in Sicily. The acting is subtle but superb. And it's this that is most shocking. Monica Bellucci was, when this film was released, a model-turning-actress. No-one expected her to actually be good, and we were right, she wasn't good... she is amazing in this film!! Bellucci has very little dialogue, she has to use body language and facial expressions... most people would agree this is much more difficult. Since this film, she has gone on to be Italy's most successful acting export for years. With roles in Matrix 2 & 3, Tears Of The Sun, and the truly ground-breaking Irreversible, she has proved herself time and time again! What her character goes through is heartbreaking and, through Bellucci's acting and the wonderful performance given by protagonist narrator Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro), we experience everything she does.

At times the movie is hilarious, particularly when detailing the lengths the men of the village will go to just to catch glimpse of Malena. Mostly though, the film shows how jealousy and subsequent hatred can destroy anything and anyone. This movie will stay with you for a very long time!!

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'Malena' Almost Beyond Description
ccthemovieman-14 November 2006
A gorgeous, voluptuous woman is the object of attention in this World War II period piece, set in an Italian town. The star is a horny 13-year-old who fantasizes about a relationship with this grown woman, "Malena," a sexy lady who gets all the mens' attention in the town, and all the wrath of the jealous town women.

This is a strange film at times but beautifully filmed and almost always interesting. Monica Bellucci is indeed a feast for any male's eyes. She is almost beyond description, looks-wise. What happens to her, unfairly, near the end is not pleasant. Otherwise, it's a pretty humorous film in segments, especially with dialog between the young kid and his dad. Some of the lines there and at other places made me laugh right out loud. Some of the language is not really profane but it's certainly crude. The kid is not that likable nor are his friends.

There is a such a mixture of genres in here that is makes the movie fresh almost every time I see it, which has been three times so far.
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The Burden of Beauty
lamaanhamid24 August 2010
Although mellowed by a narrative through the eyes of an adolescent, Malena is a movie that attempts to critique the savagery inherent in the 'civilized' society of men. Through the story, the viewer is shown the cruelty that people are capable of as a collective unit, with each individual playing a small part. It attempts to lay bare the gross hypocrisy and fragile morals that hide just beneath the surface.

Malena is also a discourse on beauty, and its brutal power. The feverish lust it produces in a man, and the severe and horrible envy in a woman. The viewer's feelings of appreciation for Malena's beauty are slowly overtaken by a feeling of utter despair for Malena's beauty, which is the cause of all her woes.

Technically the film is true to its period - a small Italian village that passes through the crisis of the 2nd World War. The story unfolds through the eyes of a young boy, who carries us along on a journey of lust, love and maturity. We watch helplessly as his innocent perspectives about life are jarred by the realities of society, while he watches helplessly the misfortunes of the beautiful Malena.
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Italian beauty with a message
Artimidor25 June 2012
In "Malèna" Giuseppe Tornatore mixes a lot of his own memories of war time Sicily à la Fellini's "Amarcord" and combines them with adolescent curiosity à la Truffaut's short "Les Mistons", all centering on the radiant and enchanting beauty of the title character played by Monica Bellucci. "Malèna" however is much more than just a celebration of Bellucci's sinuous body, which on the other hand admittedly is most effectively used when photographed by a capable director. But "Malèna" has other things to offer as well. For one it is an exquisite coming of age portrait, masterfully narrated and shot, marvelously scored by Ennio Morricone, in many ways a companion piece to Tornatore's better known and critically acclaimed "Cinema Paradiso". It's also nostalgic, endearing, funny, touching, daring at times, erotic is a given, yet beautiful and innocent, but then also tragic, sad and even unexpectedly shocking - the film is a symphony of all those emotions brought together through two very strong characters, the boy and the desired woman. Not to be neglected is the often overlooked allegorical aspect very prevalent in "Malèna": The action takes place with WW II as backdrop, where motherland Italy prostitutes herself for Hitler and becomes a mere satellite of Nazi Germany, with the once virginal beauty being brutally ravished. How fast things can change...

Finally, a warning: The film's international release version was cut by no less than 17 minutes, reducing many of the scenes laden with enticing sensuality - which represent the core of the movie - to an absolute minimum. While the film miraculously still works that way, the experience of course is far less intense. If you can, see the original.
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A masterpiece.
Lambysalamby10 May 2015
Wow, just finished this, totally blown away. This is a shining example of European film. You just do not get movies like this from Hollywood. It must easily be one of the best films I have ever seen. (and I have seen a lot!)

This is a deeply sad movie which you could actually compare to the Elephant Man, albeit for beauty, not ugliness, I won't say any more about the story than that.

The direction, cinematography and the score here are all flawless but the most amazing thing about this film was Monica Belluci, her subtle performance is beautiful and I could not imagine another actress in the role..

The thing that is so poignant about the performance she gave is that she has very little dialogue at all, but the deep sorrow you could see on her face and in her eyes was astonishing.

Overall: You'd be hard pressed to find a better film today so watch this one. It's an unforgettable masterpiece and I'm speechless.
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Helltown Promenade
cherokeejew28 April 2006
Those such as myself expecting a production similar to director Tornatore's likable "Cinema Paradiso" are in for a disappointment. "Malena" is a malevolent depiction of an Italian town in World War II, the movie's flavor foreshadowed by an early scene in which cretinous adolescents torture and kill an ant. In similar fashion, the adults proceed to destroy, over time, a woman apparently too beautiful to be allowed to live. If you adore lynch mobs, you will love this movie. The women of the town, all of them, are driven by jealousy, and the men, all of them, by swinish lust. (No contrarians here, for that might introduce a real plot.) Not one of them has any real humanity, much less intelligence. Even Malena seems strangely non-verbal and robotic. As I watched, I was hoping that the Allied bombers flying over the town would bomb it into oblivion. So much for caring about any of the characters. The adolescent "coming-of-age" nonsense is nothing more than masturbatory glue to bind the scenes together in an essentially plot less story that goes nowhere interesting. One of the most distasteful movies ever presented to the public.
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Another (though smaller) masterpiece from Tornatore
dfwforeignbuff8 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Directed by Guiseppe Tornatore one of my favorite film makers who made the Oscar Winning best film Cinema Paradiso. In this film Italy is just about to enter WWI after being dominated by Mussolini for several years. Suppose you were a 12 year old boy who was not yet as mature as your friends but at least you got yourself a new bike & then you find yourself really attracted to an older woman in town. (Malena played by extremely beautiful & well built Monica Bellucci) This 13-year-old boy (Renato) & his obsession with a small-town outcast woman in World War II Sicily make for a beautiful tale. Renato catches his first glimpse of shapely Malena , the daughter of his deaf Latin teacher (Notarianni). Instantly hooked hormones raging, Renato starts following her everywhere, indulging in keyhole spying & frantic masturbation. Though he never catches her attention she is drawn into elements of the war to survive & is outcast & beaten by local women at the end of the war. In the surprise ending her husband arrives alive after all at the end of the war. Malena combines a coming-of-age story with the sad journey of a woman punished for her beauty. With strong erotic elements & nostalgic cinematography it gives us a great (though simple) story & great views of a vanished pre-war Italy. These are the traits of film maker Tornatore used to make international hits of Cinema Paradiso & Il Postino. Production wise this film is a class act showing rich period detail of Fran. Frigeri's production design & Maurizio Millenotti's costumes. Cinematographer Lajos Koltai's gives us a truly beautiful warmly lit screen making the most of the Sicilian locations & the long stretches of the sun drenched port a(which was reconstructed in Morocco) Music Wise there is Ennio Morricone's insistent score which works well to enhance up the poignancy & emotional resonance of the film especially in the final scene. Many panned this movie I disagree I loved it & found it enchanting. Five stars
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A real mixed bag...a lot of good and a lot of bad
MartinHafer3 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is an Italian coming of age film about a young man who was entering his teen years when WWII began. In some ways it reminds me of a combination of AMARCORD and THE SUMMER OF '42--as at least in the beginning, the film focused on ordinary small town folk during the war (like in AMARCORD) and a bunch of very horny boys (like SUMMER OF '42). The problem is that while the film began well, it seems to have lost its focus and charm. While WWII isn't exactly a "charming" period, the likability of ANYONE in the film was a problem. The townspeople turned out to be quite vile and the leading character seemed to have some serious sexual hangups (such as voyeurism and fetishism)--plus he spent so much time masturbating. Now they didn't show masturbation explicitly, but the little goomer was clearly playing with himself again and again with great gusto! In hindsight, I would have dropped all the sexual hangups the kid had because it tended to deflect the focus in the film. The film was at its best when it showed human nature, as the townspeople gossiped about and mistreated a decent lady just because she was so beautiful. Then, when she was apparently widowed and broke with no one to help her, she slept with the Nazi occupiers to survive. This and the peoples' reaction to this after the war was really fascinating but unfortunately so much time was spent on this horny kid that the significance of the rest of the film was lost.

Oh, and if you want good parenting advice, just look to the boy's father. To cure his chronic masturbation and wearing the lady's stolen underwear on his head while he slept, his father took him to a prostitute. Now THAT'S something I don't remember reading in Dr. Spock!!
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Nostalgic and sensitive picture with a ravishing Monica Belucci
ma-cortes11 October 2006
The film is developed on WWII in a small town from Sicily,there live an adolescent(Renato)coming of age,he is obsessed of a married woman(Monica Belucci)whose husband was to the war.The young man tries to help her but he is enamored and is too young .We see him growing up during a few years and by Malena he changes his life forever.

The picture contains drama and nostalgia completely wrapped in an enjoyable love story between an innocent young boy and a beautiful woman.The movie gets a sharply social critical about village customs,habits and gossips leading to mistreats and violence. The story is narrated with great sense and sensibility,the intelligent screenplay is by Luciano Vincenzoni(Sergio Leone's usual screenwriter).Gorgeous Monica Bellucci is sensational although she barely talks throughout the movie and the starring boy is sympathetic and agreeable;another actors are good but they are unknown.Glowing cinematography with scenarios colorfully and splendidly photographed by Lajos Koltai who reflects the elegant beauty Monica Belucci.Sensible and moving score musical by the veteran master and prolific Ennio Morricone who was nominated with a deserved Academy Award.The picture is produced by the great American brothers producers:Harvey and Bob Weinsten and well directed by Giuseppe Tornatore who made a similar nostalgic film,the excellent¨Cinema Paradise¨. Ratting :Better than average,well worth watching by a beautiful,exceptional Monica Bellucci.
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A Disappointment
woodfoster16 September 2001
Having seen and loved Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso, I had high hopes Malena, but instead I was disappointed by this sentimental, manipulative piece of cinematic caricature.

A coming of age film is difficult to pull off without sinking into cliche. Unfortunately this film goes face down in every pitfall. The fresh-faced boy making wide-eyed sexual discoveries. The cruelly indifferent parents. The misunderstood heroine. The denouement of selfless sacrifice. The only way these ingredients can be put into a film that doesn't make you want to throw up at its saccharine sincerity is if it has other ingredients which temper it, twist it, change it into something that makes you think, "Ah, this is new. I've never thought about it this way before."

Tornatore puts the stock ingredients in, and exaggerates them almost beyond recognition, but he adds nothing else. It's true, the performances are fine and the cinematography and music are beautiful (I too love Morricone); but with a story that never rises above the level of the cliche, none of that really matters. What comes across is a goopy string of scenes that alternately tug at your heartstrings and the corners of your mouth (and I don't mean that in a complimentary way).

The ironic thing is that I think Malena could have been a very good movie if it hadn't gotten the vaseline-lensed treatment. It would have been far more wrenching if the story had been told as it actually might have happened, harsh and unadorned. Women have been driven into prostitution and then humiliated for it throughout the centuries, and coupling this with a boy's struggle to understand his budding sexuality would have been an affecting twist. But told in this mawkish, eager-to-please style, it degenerates to the level of the cheap.
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sentimental, but far from hogwash
EThompsonUMD21 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Like his memorable Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore's Malèna is a coming of age story set against a rich, nostalgic backdrop of mid-twentieth century Italian history and small city culture. The setting in this instance is Southern Italy during World War II. On the day that Mussolini declares war on Great Britain and France, the film's young protagonist, Renato, is given a bicycle that represents the first stage of his passage to manhood. Although still too young to wear the long pants symbolic of sexual maturation, he joins a group of somewhat older youths whose principal occupation - seemingly like that of every male in town – is gawking at Malèna, the voluptuous daughter of their dotty, deaf Latin teacher.

Played by the miraculously beautiful Italian model Monica Bellucci, Malèna, a newly wed whose husband has been shipped off to war and later reported dead, is a focal point of male desire, female envy, and general gossip. Innocently charged in a sex scandal, she succumbs to the initial, near-rape advances of her operatically bombastic lawyer and begins an affair with him. The lawyer, one of the Tornatore's familiar comic-grotesques, proves to be a mama's boy who abandons Malèna at the mother's insistence. Increasingly alone, desperate, and hungry, Malèna heeds the siren call of a seedy pimp and begins a rapid descent into communal disgrace. Ultimately, she sets up shop with another notorious local prostitute servicing the occupying German officers. When liberation day comes, Malèna is dragged into the streets by a group of outraged women, and – in a scene worthy of Kosinski's Painted Bird – is horribly beaten, stripped, shorn, and hooted from the town.

Throughout, Malèna's exploits are viewed through the (sometimes literally) voyeuristic eyes of Renato, whose feelings for Malèna, Tornatore suggests, stem not only from pubescent sexual urges, but from a deeper, 'purer' romantic longing, the force of which drives Renato to become Malèna's only champion in the town, reeking minor vengeance on her enemies and detractors and lighting candles for her protection in the church. In developing Renato's complex attraction to Malèna, Tornatore constructs fantasy sequences that often blend ambiguously with reality in the manner of Fellini's 8 ½ and sometimes invoke the imaginative power of the cinema. These fantasy sequences culminate in a technically adventurous, kaleidoscopic montage that bring to a crescendo the whirring, sex-saturated images of Renato's subconscious.

After Malèna's brutal banishment, two things happen: Renato is taken to a whorehouse by his father for sexual initiation and Malena's husband shows up minus an arm but very much alive. When no one will tell him what has become of his wife except to suggest mockingly that he look in every brothel in Sicily, Renato mails the husband an anonymous message exonerating Malèna and informing him of her whereabouts in Messina. A year passes. Renato is next seen walking the square with his first girl friend. Suddenly, all eyes turn to witness the re-emergence of Malèna on the arm of her husband. Confronted with the courageousness of her return and reassured by her safely married state and the few wrinkles now tempering her still beautiful face, the townswomen accept Malèna back into the community. Her redemption is capped by a brief encounter with Renato, who helps pick up some fruit she has dropped from a shopping bag. As Malèna walks away, Renato rides off on his bicycle, the voice-over of his adult self relaying that many women have since asked him to remember them but that only Malèna, the one who never asked, remains unforgettable.

If all this sounds sentimental to the point of mawkishness, I suppose it is. Nevertheless the film is a visual treat, and the lush soundtrack by Morricone doesn't hurt in the slightest either. Malèna doesn't reach the heights of brilliance that the first half of Cinema Paradiso does, nor is Renato as appealing or as well developed a character as Salvatore. On the other hand, Malèna doesn't overstay its welcome. Its tightly constructed screenplay is sparse in dialog, yet filled with warm humor. Overall, the film merits a solid "8."
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Beauty and The Beasts
coralk7712 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Malena is the most beautiful and touching film I have ever seen. I have watched it countless times, yet it continues to enchant me every time, and I never grow tired of it's story.

People never cease to amaze me with their cruelty and pettiness--most which stems from that "green eyed lady", JEALOUSY. We, as human beings, always seem to resent those who have attributes we have not--whether it's money, power, beauty, etc. Jealousy is why Malena suffers so much through out this film. That is the simple truth. I won't deny that the men in the movie don't help the situation much, (as they get carried away with their story telling and boasting--as they all WISH they could sleep with her). The fact is, the MEN are jealous, too. Not jealous of Malena, but of each other, jealous of her husband--as all of them are competing with each other to be Malena's potential "man".

However, the women in this movie, (and in real life in many ways), are the main "crux" of the problem. It seems to me that in every facet of life, whether it is in the workplace or the family, etc., women are always dead set on destroying each other out of jealousy. There seems to be only one or two women in this movie who show any kindness towards Malena, (excepting of course for at then end, when they are all afraid of going to hell for what they did to her)...It's ironic how as soon as her husband returns, and Malena is no longer a "sex object", how the women warm up to her and begin to treat her with dignity and respect. While she was alone, she needed their friendship the most, but she was all alone suffering in so many ways. This happens so often in real life, and it actually hit home for me, as I have known women in the past who have been abused because of being attractive.

I am a woman, and I am not gay at all, but when I see a beautiful woman, I don't automatically HATE her just because she's beautiful! That behavior and emotion is so primitive and stupid--and it's a shame that we women don't have better control over our jealous minds. We could accomplish so much in this world if we were able to get our heads out of our you know what's and stop being so petty and jealous all the time of women who happen to be prettier than us!!! I admire Malena, or any other beautiful woman as a lovely creation by God, to be admired and liked--not to be hated and victimized. Women need each other, we need each others friendship. But ironically, our competitiveness with each other over men keeps us separated and lonely. This is the case with Malena. She does absolutely NOTHING wrong, yet she is humiliated and abused by the entire society--and yes, all because of her beauty. She is guilty of being beautiful, (GORGEOUS, actually). None of the women in this movie come even CLOSE to her. Even our American Angelina Jolie looks like a "plain Jane" compared to her...(No offense, but it is true, as pretty as Angelina is--she's TOTALLY overrated)!! Monica Bellucci may truly be the most beautiful woman in the world since Venus.

Another point this movie demonstrates is how age has nothing to do with the capacity to experience true love. Renato is only 12 or 13, yet he loves and cares about Malena more than any of the older men in the village. People have prejudices about women dating younger men, but when love is concerned, age should not matter. I am glad she found her husband in the end, but given a few more years to grow up, I think Renato would have been the ideal match for Malena--despite their age difference! (As long as he was legal, of course)!!!

In any case, this is truly the best movie I have ever seen, and it has a wide range of emotions that will cater to most people's diverse tastes. The soundtrack is wonderful and emotional. The only people who may NOT like this movie, would be jealous and insecure women, (of any age group), who don't like being reminded of how mediocre they are compared to Monica Bellucci. All women want to be beautiful, but if they were this pretty, they would see how hard it can be. And for all you jealous, petty women out there who have nothing better to do than to gossip and make trouble, I say you should watch this movie, because it may give you an idea of how hard it can be when the grass seems "greener" on the other side, and show you how being a beautiful women can be a very difficult and lonely thing sometimes...

WONDERFUL movie all in all. Makes a very good point which applies to every society.
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She was too beautiful and he was too young to protect her.
Lady_Targaryen11 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
''Malèna'' is a nice movie starring Monica Bellucci, one of her greatest roles in the movies, that also projected her to the United States. (Since she was limited to European films until then)

Set in 1940 during World War II, just as Italy enters the war, we see through the eyes of the boy Renato, the story of Malèna, a beautiful woman who's moved to his Sicilian town to be with her husband Nico. But as soon as they move, Nino leaves to serve in the war, leaving Malena sad but having to deal with it. Being desired by the men and criticized by the women, a lot of gossips about Malena's life are made by the people from town, and basically all of them are bad things. And her only sin is to be beautiful. During the next few years, Renato grows toward manhood and he watches Malèna suffer more and more: her loneliness and sadness, specially when Nico is reported dead, the effects of the gossips on her relationship with her father, the poverty she eventually reaches and even her search for work, that ends in prostitution.

The irony of the story, is that only Renato, a young boy who cannot help Malena, knows that she is a good person and that she was forced to do many of the things even to survive.

But Spite of the many sad things that Malena needs to handle, and also showing the humiliations she suffers, the final message of the movie is positive, being about forgiveness and "redemption", since at the end of the movie, Malena's life returned to normal, not only having her husband Nico back, but also being treated very well by the townspeople.
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Best of luck signora Malena
nishantsocial30 January 2015
Hitler rightly says that"The more I know people, the more I love dogs". And it is also said that we humans are most smart ANIMALS! But at least Animals are not FAKE.It takes an effort to become a true Human but who cares?people are happy to live like animals bcuz it is far easy.Most people with no inner self treat helpless,weak or alone people the same way as alone Malena was treated in this movie.A person with no inner self has a brain with no wisdom!then his brain works the same way as it works for animals no principles nothing just a machine.People who blame others for their own vices are shown in this movie. Yes Malena has an attractive beautiful body but this only the outer part of her, the actual Malena is hiding inside that beautiful body which is far more beautiful but never seen by anyone or no one actually wants to see it!Her beauty has become a curse as it hides all her emotions inside itself and to look that inside it requires an eye of a soul not of a smart intelligent brain.We are not so called human but we are Human we are soul! So Guys watch this movie to examine your self if your are a soul or just a body?
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