Starring: Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Running Time: 124 mins
Cinema Paradiso is an Italian film about the story of a filmmaker who recalls his days in a small southern town when he first fell in love with the movies, formed a strong bond with the town’s projectionist, and found his first true love.
This is both an entertaining and heartwarming comedy, as well as a powerfully emotional and sentimental drama. With stunning central performances, beautiful art direction and a brilliant score, this is a film about film that is an absolute delight to watch.
The main thing about this film is that it’s a coming of age story that really does pack a powerful punch when it comes to your emotions. We get to know our main character, Toto, from the age of about 7, through his teenage and young adult years until his older age, and that long time means that you have such a strong connection with him and feel everything he feels so strongly, making the more sentimental parts of the film all the more powerful.
And this film really does play the nostalgia card well. In just two hours, this film manages to create great memories of the past for you, the viewer, through the eyes of Toto, thanks to some brilliant writing and bright imagery. That vision of the packed Cinema Paradiso is one that really stays with you throughout, just as it would for Toto, even though it’s never shown on screen again, showing how truly powerful a memory it is for you as a viewer of this story.
The nostalgia of the personal story is also heightened by the romance thrown into the middle of the story. Without any spoilers, this period is a deeply passionate and emotional part of the film, and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but mixes in with one of this film’s main themes of togetherness and relationships.
One of the most interesting ways in which this film touches on that theme is through its use of movies. For any film fan, this is a delight to watch, because it talks about how cinema brings people together, not just a whole town to watch a film for fun, but also individuals who share a deep interest, such as Toto and the old projectionist, whose relationship throughout the story is also very strong and fascinating to follow.
Finally, this film has some great heart and comedy. Throughout, the beautiful tale of Toto’s coming of age and the nostalgia works on a dramatic note, but the light-hearted and fun atmosphere that Toto evokes throughout, particularly during his childhood years, is so delightful and refreshing, preventing this from becoming a melodramatic film and instead one that is a real pleasure to watch.
Overall, this gets an 8.4, because it’s a lovely coming-of-age story full of heart and laughs, as well as a powerfully emotional and sentimental story about love, childhood and the movies.