"Growing up in 19th-century Sicily, rebellious Angela (Valeria Solarino) finds herself attracted to her best friend Sara (Isabella Ragonese). As deep friendship turns to romantic passion, her strict quarry boss father demands that the relationship cease and that she marry one of his workers. Refusing, Angela is locked in a cellar until her father determines a potential way for them both to get what they want."OK - so maybe the part about the locked in the cellar should have clued me in. It all starts off sort of how I thought it would. Lots and lots of shots of the idyllic island and the sea around it. Angela's father is the foreman of the local quarry and they seem relatively well off. Sure, it seems that Dad occasionally brutally takes out financial losses by clumsy workers by taking liberties with their wives - but that must just be the way things are on the island. Angela and Sara run around and play with the other boys and girls and seem close as can be. When Sara's family moves away Angela stares out into the sea seemingly for years until she comes back. When Angela does come back she convinces Sara on what she's been missing out on and a little romance takes place. Things get worse then they get better then life goes on. Just a weird little movie about those quirky Sicilians. And allegedly sexy to boot - based on the description.
From a film making perspective there's probably nothing technically wrong here. All the photography makes the most of the scenery, the story is clear enough, nobody is mumbling, etc. But I just cannot say I liked the film. The "sexiness" came across as clinical and I just had no patience for the behavior of the father - which I think we were supposed to see as finding a compromise for himself to deal with the daughter's non-conformist behavior.
Had to say more without introducing huge spoilers - if you'd like to hear the rest of my random ranting it's after the jump. You have been warned...
OK, so first of all Dad is a scumbag IMHO from the start. He's introduced as having not wanted a daughter. Having a preference isn't so odd. But having held a knife held ready to slit the mother's throat during delivery if a girl is born seems wrong. Add to the fact that he viciously beats the children (and presumably the mother) for very minor offenses doesn't make him any more likable to me. So by the time that he learns of his daughter's lesbian tendencies and locks her in the cellar for months I will admit to having a bias against the character. His big idea to "accept" the situation is to suddenly pretend that Angela is male. They cut her hair, wrap her breasts, rename her Angelo and blackmail the priest into telling folks he made a mistake when he declared her a girl. Apparently when you're foreman on the island people will pretend to go along with anything - perhaps in this case so you don't have to worry about you raping their wife. Just guessing.
Angela (excuse me Angelo) then is allowed to marry Sarah. I suppose this is one way to deal with gay marriage - the ostrich approach. But again, it does not make me think better of the father for coming up with the solution. Perhaps if he had thought of it before locking her in a cave for months I might think differently. The couple eventually have a child by borrowing an old friend for a few hours. Angela's father dies, she becomes foreman and behaves far more reasonably to the workers. Of course there's no way Angela is going to be allowed to have what she wants and Sarah dies in childbirth.
And to be fair to the folks who wrote the description of the film for the guide - Angela and Sarah have a good amount of onscreen sex. I don't know if it's how it was shot or just the whole background of the story but it left me equally cold as the behavior of the characters on the island. Also didn't help that I felt more chemistry in the childhood version of the relationship than with the adult actors.
I've met folks who like the movie considerably more than I did - I just can't personally recommend it. I think it was a good choice for the series of films - but not my cup of tea.