Brava Italia: Not Brava Three Hours

| January 22, 2010

Brava Italia is a long documentary, presented as three separate parts. While these are separated by theme, the whole movie is a series of snapshots of Italy’s several provinces, with some interviews of locals. The actor Paul Sorvino narrates with a love, pride, and enthusiasm for Italy apparent. Occasionally he includes Italian phrases with an exquisite accent. However, even his zeal cannot withstand the exorbitant nearly three hours that the movie lasts. While his philosophical musings and explanation of facts are interesting, nothing is expounded on. After the second hour, it felt like going to a museum and having only a few seconds to absorb each piece of art in order to see everything.
The three divisions seem to want to capture different facets of Italy. The first part, “The Proud Tradition,” displays everyone from the fisherman and violin- maker to the violinist and opera singer. The concepts that Italians do not take life for granted and do live life to the fullest are displayed in their work, religious ardor, architecture, sports, and of course food and wine. “Simplicity” is a motif mentioned often as the significance of food, wine, and conversation are explained to be the stuff of life which makes life “extraordinary” when shared. There is much to be inspired by in this section as the combination of the stunning images and the profound philosophies of life stoke the heart.
“The Beautiful Life” is the second section which seems to focus on Italy’s art. Again, the emphasis is on living life to the fullest. There is much about the culture and the history of creativity explored here, and, as such, reasons for the great pride and cultural confidence that Italians may feel. This section remains stimulating and enticing. By the third section, “The Eternal Country,” the format of brief glimpses and occasional monologue grows a bit tedious. This section describes how modern Italy appreciates its past while embracing its future and technology. This segment feels a bit contrived and may have been sewn better into the earlier parts. Or perhaps it would be more easily digested if all three parts were watched individually and not straight through the three hour duration.
Admittedly, the cinematography is stunning, simply breathtaking, and there are some very informative bits on history, facts, and lore. But there is so much visually to absorb and the script is written so as to only offer brief snippets of information, thus, to the viewer, it may feel a bit overwhelming and tedious. Also, while there is much to admire about Italy, the narration does make a few bold statements which can seem a bit arrogant and a turnoff. The movie feels like a long advertisement, albeit if I could, I’d hop a plane to Italy immediately. As for the film, it is clean and appropriate for children, if a parent could get them to watch a documentary. For the Italy enthusiast or documentary lover, it is wonderful. For the lay movie watcher, it is best served as an accompaniment to a wine and cheese festa.

About the Author:

Alicia Ayoub has been published by Filmmonthly.com and "Verve" Magazine of Hendersonville, Nc. Her passion for the entertainment industry does not end with the pen. After working as a theatrical stage manager for over a decade, she is trying her hand at film making; having worked for Dreamworks, PBS, and Stormcatcher Films. Currently, Alicia is revising a screenplay in between movie gigs.
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