Magazine article Screen International

'Sicilian Ghost Story': Cannes Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Sicilian Ghost Story': Cannes Review

Article excerpt

This blend of teenage romance, gothic fantasy and Mafia thriller opens Cannes Critics Week

Dirs/scr Fabio Grassadonia, Antonio Piazza. Italy/France/Switzerland, 2017. 122mins.

Revisiting and expanding the themes of their prize-winning debut Salvo, Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza have crafted a hugely ambitious, darkly intriguing second feature. The heady fusion of teenage romance, gothic fantasy and Mafia thriller becomes an immersive, atmospheric drama that should secure sustained festival exposure and increase the commercial prospects for this filmmaking duo.

DoP Luca Bigazzi manages to constantly imbue the banal with a sense of the sinister

Sicilian Ghost Story is inspired by the true story of teenager Giuseppe Di Matteo (Gaetano Fernandez) who was kidnapped in 1993 in a bid to silence his father Santino, a Mafia supergrass. His real life ordeal is viewed through the torment of Luna (Julia Jedlikowska), a classmate whose devotion to Giuseppe burned ever brighter in the face of public indifference to his fate.

The film confidently walks the line between grim reality and comforting fantasy as the couple are viewed as a latter-day Romeo and Juliet. The fervour of Luca's determination to discover what happened to Giuseppe edges her towards a supernatural connection to the captive boy. A letter from Luna becomes the boy's one solace and escape from weeks of being held in chains.

There are constant fairytale references throughout Sicilian Ghost Story with Luna's wardrobe of a red duffel coat and red jacket pointing up the Little Red Riding Hood connection. There is an enchanted forest, a magical lake and even a big bad wolf in the form of a vicious attack dog. Luna's affinity with animals also makes her seem like Snow White, whilst Giuseppe has the qualities of a noble knight as he seeks to protect her in their brief time together and in the fantasy connection they develop. …

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