Opening 7 Apr 2011
Principal actors: Lina Sastri, Massimo Ranieri, Loredana Simioli, Peppe Servillo
Conceived and directed by John Turturro, Passione presents a potpourri of Neapolitan musical stars, including Lina Sastri, Massimo Ranieri and Fiorello.
Kudos to John Turturro for making a film about the music of Naples. Anyone brave enough to make a movie in praise of local art and culture deserves our support. With Passione, the actor/director, by his own admission, attempted to do a film along the lines of Buena Vista Social Club. The backdrop of cobbled streets and clothes hanging out to dry between the upper stories of rustic buildings, Mt. Vesuvius looming over the valley cityscape, and the film’s intro with the actor himself, all made for a good start. However, it was soon clear that the film would be no Buena Vista. The music included some fine performances but did not represent a unified folk tradition; the various players were unable to take the viewer on an exciting journey. Most of the director’s selections were music videos that, by today’s standards, were not particularly well executed or stimulating. The charm that could have been so naturally portrayed with live music in atmospheric settings was suffocated by the theatrical staging of the singers and their performances. Don't you hate when that happens! Funnily enough, one of the most charming parts of the movie was an interview with three elderly music production guys. They were discussing and disagreeing about the music business – in Italian, with subtitles. Anyone who knows the business a bit would have to smile. (Osanna Vaughn)