Friday, November 14, 2014

European Union Film Festival Review - Fasten Your Seatbelts

When we first meet Elena (Kasia Smutniak) she is working in a cafe in picturesque Southern Italy. He best friend Fabio ( Filippo Scicchitano) toils alongside her as both dream of opening their own place.  He next closet friend Sylvia ( Carolina Crescentini) is late again, Fabio her roommate reveals that she's dating someone new who's keeping her busy. A few days later at a nigh time event Sylvia brings her mechanic boyfriend Antonio (Francesco Arca) who Elena had met and beefed with before. Antonio is loud, homophobic and a man for a few but mainly curse words. Elena has more reasons not to like him as they are complete opposites. Meanwhile Fabio has found a location for their joint venture that Elena also likes and they persuade her fiancee Georgio (Francesco Scianna) to invest in the venture. Antonio then begins to appear regularly at the cafe when Sylvia is not there. Elena is the new target of his gaze. She is attracted to him as well despite their differences their encounters on occasion leaving her heaving and rooted to one spot.

The story jumps ahead 13 years and the joint venture The Gas Station is the hotspot in town. Elena returns home after a successful 13th Anniversary party to her two young children Guela and Giovanni. Her mom Anna (Carla Signoris) and offbeat Auntie (Elena Sofia Rici) are also present at home. She notices a mess of empty liquor bottles, heads to the bedroom to find her Husband Antonio now a little heavier then our last viewing, passed out in bed. She begins to scold him but he turns amorous causing Elena to drop her argument.

Director Ferzan Ozpetek has talent for displaying complicated relationship to the screen as in his earlier works Facing Window and the volatile A Perfect Day. Elena and Antonio both know that their relationship is based on the physical. He barley speaks to her, spends all their money as Elena works countless hours at the eatery and can't be counted on to take their daughter Guela to and from an event. Another Ozpetek knack is working intelligently with chid actors as evidenced by Guela who is perhaps the smartest and most perceptive character in the story. Another strength is letting the actors show their emotions through body language and facial expression not weighing every scene down with too much dialogue.

The story has a few more twist to reveal one is grim and dominates most of the third and forth acts serving to bring Antonio and Elena closer together reminiscent of the early days of their relationship. The another in a flashback that lightens the mood that first appears to be a discussion about one subject between friends over lunch but takes a 180 degree turn.

Fasten your Seatbelts is an old time heavily dramatic story that would easily have been at home with Italian cinema in the fifties or Sixties. If you are a fan of this classic era then you'll enjoy this Ozpetek offering.

** 1/2 Out of 4.

Fasten Your Seatbelts | Ferzan Ozpetek | Italy | 2014 | 110 Minutes.

Tags: Drama , Comedy, Opposites Attract, Flash Forward, Puglia, Family, Life's Turbulence.

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