| October 18, 2011

Giuseppe Tornatore’s Baaria is a masterpiece. Filled with notable Italian actors, Ennio Mrricone, and more than 35,000 extras, the film proves to be the director’s most grandiose to date. Saying that, looks can be deceiving.
Baaria loosely follows the life of Giuseppe “Peppino” Torrenuova. Set in the small village of Bagheria (Baaria in Sicilian dialect), Peppino matures through Italy’s major historical events of the last century.
Known for casting compelling child actors (young Salvatore in Cinema Paradiso) and depiction of provincial Sicilian life, Torantore seems to be at the top of his game. The cast, from young to nearly ancient, complements each scene with grace and accuracy. While some of the director’s older actors fall victim to childhood stars, Magareth Made steals the show. In her first role, Mannina’s (Made) vitality and beauty hold the film together.
While Baaria’s surface promises to be Tornatore’s best, the film’s flaws are difficult to ignore. With Paradiso and The Legend of 1900 Tornatore builds from the ground up. His grand dramatic moment finally makes the viewer aware of the character(s) circumstances. Baaria has this moment, but it isn’t as entertaining as one would expect from a ‘masterpiece.’
WIth a running time of 150 minutes, Baaria is a heavy film. Springboarding from one small town story to another, it’s hard to keep up-but it works. When you live in the shadow of Cinema Paradiso, it’s difficult to top yourself, but that doesn’t stop Tornatore from trying.

About the Author:

Daniel currently resides in New York City working as a freelance writer and director. He is a graduate of the Film and Video department of Columbia College, specializing in Italian Neo-realism and French & British New Wave cinema.
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