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On an impoverished Italian island, a free-spirited woman is accused of madness by townspeople fed up with her antics.  

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Respiro

The sun-drenched island of Lampedusa, off the south-west coast of Sicily, is a land where life is an endless struggle for the local population.  The men head out to sea in their fishing boats, the women toil in the fish-packing factory, and the bare-chested kids roam free around the arid countryside, hunting animals and scrapping with rival gangs.

Grazia (Golino) is a free-spirited mother of three, who adores her husband Pietro (Amato) and her children, particularly the two boys, Pasquale (Casisa) and Filippo (Pucillo).  Her mood swings and convulsive fits, however, are regarded with deep suspicion by other members of this close-knit community.  She's seen as either "too happy or too sad, too aggressive or too affectionate".  Pietro's mother suggests that her daughter-in-law be sent to the mainland for treatment, prompting Grazia to disappear...

Told through the eyes of Pasquale, Respiro is a wonderfully simple yet beautiful story full of great characters played by a very good set of mostly non-professional cast.  Although emphasis in the opening scenes is towards violence, there is no blood to be seen; a marked difference from so many of today's cinematic offerings.  The wonderful saxophone score further enriches the beautifully shot locations as you become immersed into life on Lampedusa.

Winner of the grand prize in the Critics' Week programme at Cannes 2002, this is a really uplifting and magical movie not to be missed!

Alex Coe

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Spring Term (35mm)