Monday, November 22, 2004

Facing Windows

(Ferzan Ozpetek, dir)

I saw Mr Ozpetek's Ignorant Fairies at the last Italian Film Festival, so was looking forward to his latest film. Of course, with a name like Facing Windows, Hitchcock comes to mind and this movie did borrow an element from the earlier movie - Giovanni takes a break from her marriage to loser-boy Filippo by ogling the hot young man who lives in the apartment across the way, Lorenzo. He, in turn, watches her every move: strange that neither is aware of the other's observation. So, one storyline tracks the developing relationship between these two, once they finally meet. Her story is simple: she's stuck, bored with her job, bored with her man, bored with the role of mother but feeling she's far too old (early 30's) to start again. Know the feeling.

Into this situation comes the old man that Filippo decides to help, Davide - he has apparently lost his memory and any kind of volition, so is simply stalled in the street. Fillippo takes him home but being slack, doesn't do anything more about him. Instead, it is left to Giovanni - just one more thing she doesn't need in her life.

One aspect of the story is simply trying to find out who he is. The audience does know something about him, as the movie starts with a killing in a bakery in 1941 or so: it is not a major jump to connect this lost fellow with that earlier event. He is then revealed to be a gay Jew, neither of which was a healthy thing to be in German occupied Rome in the 1940's. He, however, was strong: when the Germans invaded, he had the choice of saving his lover or warning the Jews so thay could escape. Despite the many years that have intervened, he is still mourning the loss of his lover.

Nonetheless, he is the central catalytic character. For example, it is when Davide wanders off from the car, to be found by Lorenzo, that Giovanni finally meets her neighbour. The main connection between Davide and Giovanni comes from their shared love of baking. He sits in her kitchen, watching her make the pies she sells as a sideline, offering commentary on her method. I thought she'd hit the roof, having this old guy interfering when he shouldn't have even been there, but instead it opens up the possibility of warmth between them. Its her passion and his therapy - he has no-one to feed but that doesn't stop him from cooking an enormous array of cakes - there is this glorious scene where Giovanni goes to Davide's house and he has really let go - the kitchen and dining room are both completely covered in outstanding cakes.

So, despite the title leading to the idea that the dominant story would be about Giovanni and Lorenzo (and there is something that happens between them), it is much more about her re-connecting with her own passion for making food. It isn't really clear where Davide ends up, whether he is finally able to put his past behind him.


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