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Malena (2000)

Cast: Monica Bellucci, Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, more...
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore, Giuseppe Tornatore
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Miramax
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Costume Drama/Period Piece, Italy, Coming of Age
Running Time: 92 min.
Languages: French, Italian
Subtitles: English, Spanish
    see additional details...

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. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • The Making of Malena
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots

GreenCine Member Reviews

chopped copy by kaream August 4, 2008 - 6:21 AM PDT
From the AMG blurb, above: '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.'

Actually, according to the entry at IMDb the original Italian release was 109 minutes, compared to this damn-near-Disneyfied 92 minute cut, so that's at least 16 minutes of film chopped out, no matter how you count it. Ever since the Weinsteins sold out Miramax to Walt Disney/Buena Vista in 1993 you never know who to trust any more. You can get some idea of what you're missing from this Miramax version of Malèna by checking unexpurgated scenes at

(Or, as of this date Amazon lists a 2-disc Korean all-region NTSC release of the uncut director's version, apparently with occasionally iffy English subtitles, for $140; some reviews there discuss the differences and explain how the cuts have damaged the sense of the film.)

I did like the movie, even in this chopped-up incarnation. Tornatore is an interesting director in everything I've seen of his, and Bellucci is stunning as always. But it just burns my butt that Disney is so uptight and so quick to take a hatchet to the more mature movies that they buy, instead of leaving them for a more responsible distributor.

Great music by thingstodo February 16, 2006 - 7:11 PM PST
The movie starts with a quirky and funny beginning involving a young Italian teen living in an almost comical town (I have never been there, but I really doubt Sicily was ever like that).

Ronato is the kid trying to adjust into adolescence. Seeing the hot Malena walk down in a hip-hugging skirt doesn't exactly help regulate the hormone rush. I'm in my mid-30's and I sit up when I see her, let alone a teenager. Before you brand me a pervert, it seems that I'm not alone--all the men in town want a piece of her.

So you get these comical stunts that the kid goes through to fantasize about her. Half way through the movie things take a turn for the worse for our gal when she runs out of money and has only the envy (form the women) and lust (from everyone else) of the townspeople to deal with. You know what happens when a beautiful woman runs out of money and friends, right? I feel sorry for ugly men who run out of money and friends. But I digress.

Since the movie is from the perspective of the kid, we don't really how Malena thinks but are forced to extrapolate from her actions. So we're always kept at a distance from her but instead are forced to identify with the kid, which is annoying.

So it's Kinda like watching an R-rated Wonder Years in Italian. Every now and then we get to see Monica Bellucci topless.

If you come out of this balance on the plus side, go right ahead and give this one a try.

One last thing: the music is great. I was tempted to jump on Amazon to get the soundtrack after the movie.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.29)
114 Votes
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A wimpy trip to hell
SinisterGuffaw (muscle), woozy (brain), and IronS (advisory chorus) go to hell to rescue SoniaBlue. Turned out she wasn't there. Then they got stuck and SonjaB's mirror shades rescued them.
Cinema Italiana

Coming Soon from Criterion: Pietro Germi's Seduced and Abandoned and Francesco Rosi's Hands Over the City

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