Sunday, July 14, 2013

KinoSmith Inc. Film Review - Adriatico My Love

The feel of the Mediterranean is introduced with a fly in shot off the wing of a small commuter plane over top of the Island of Hvar. The screen is filled with the multi coloured images of the roofs of the houses below, green vegetation, rock formations and aqua blue water. The next sequence transitions to snow and cold on a frozen Lake Simcoe, Ontario. TV host Alex Gull (Valerie Buhagiar) is shooting her cooking show doing a feature on Ice Fishing and her take on how to defrost your haul.  Alex's show Cook on the Go is running out of ideas leading to low ratings and this current show outing is not successful as pointed out by Claude her boss at the network.

Now at a point with nothing to loose Alex badgers her daughter Lucy(Dorian Kolinas) into heading to their ancestral home on the Adriatic to revitalize the show with or without the blessing of her producers and to re-establish a closer relationship with her daughter.

Directory of Photography Antonin Lhotsky takes a different path to presenting a film about life on an island playground. The usual practice is to use a lot of light, make most of the daytime scenes bright and the landscape vibrant and easy to absorb. Instead Lhotsky has many instances where the setting is muted, dark and shadows are very prominent.  Director Nikola Curcin story works well with this style as a good part of the opening act on the island focuses on buildings and areas of the town Stari Grad that are in disrepair amongst a narrow labyrinth of roadways.

The beginning moments do not work out well for the pair. The Gull's homestead on the island is not as expected, a spot introduced to them by the local is different from new world standards but the duo do eventually find their island legs and get into a routine for gathering footage for the show.

We learn that Alex has a personal history on the island and her choice to bring her daughter with her was more that to have her handle the camera for her show. Lucy despite her initial protests and issues she is leaving behind in Toronto settles in well on the island and meets a group of young people that she can spend time with especially Jure who she begins to spend more time with as her connection to the Island deepens.

Curcin uses a lot of locals on the film. Their inclusion gives the movie a natural feel however on some of the group shot scenes they can get caught staring into the camera.  One aspect of the film that could be better is the close up shots.  They do not appear to flow naturally in a scene and appear that they were spliced in well after a scene was shot. When they do occur and they are used a lot it takes the viewer out of the regular pace of the film.

The star of the piece is the food and the cooking sequences. The natural items used to prepare the meals and the elements used to season and spice the dishes are really well presented. The main island staples of bread, cheese, figs, grapes and wine seem to appear at every meal.  The universal ingredient Olive Oil is prominently featured and Alex's refrain Don't Forget the Olive Oil is heard throughout the piece.

The soundtrack features many traditional songs most of which are instrumental. The main song with words Nek Zaplacu Mandoline a hearty Croatian piece is used over the closing credits. Curcin uses the natural sounds, the hum of the island, birds, boat motors or the water hitting the shoreline in many scenes.

Nikola Curcin has presented a very watchable film. If you every wanted to take a trip to the Adriatic this film gives a strong flavour of the region. Some of the plot lines are similar to other North American's abroad pieces but it has enough unique elements that it's a film I can recommend.

*** out of 4

Adriatico My Love | Nikola Curcin | Canada | 2011 | 83 Minutes.

KinoSmith Productions.

Tags: Mediterranean, Adriatic Sea, Cooking, Croatia, Lipi, Mother /Daughter, Summer Romance, Romance abroad, Island Life.

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