Irish Film Institute -Facing Windows

Facing Windows

Director: Ferzan Ozpetek

Italy-U.K.-Turkey- Portugal| 2003. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 106 mins

There’s a bold fluidity to this film that draws us in instantly—gorgeous long takes, sumptuous music, sparky acting, vivid characters. And director-cowriter Ferzan Ozpetek has more surprises up his sleeve. Giovanna and Filippo (Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Filippo Nigro) are a young couple in Rome with two kids; their relationship is strained by Giovanna’s dead-end job in a chicken factory and Filippo’s sense of disappointment. When they encounter an amnesiac old man who calls himself Simone (the veteran Massimo Girotti) on the street, Giovanna wants to keep walking, but Filippo wants to help. Giovanna reluctantly agrees to let him stay with them for a day or two, and soon her mind is full of thoughts of missed opportunities and possibilities—of her dream job as a pastry chef, of the gorgeous man (Raoul Bova) who lives in the flat opposite her front window. Meanwhile, Simone is piecing together his memories, but is having trouble telling the past from the present.
Hitchcock is the inspiration here, mainly RearWindow’s voyeurism and Vertigo’s dark examination of identity and desire. But this isn’t just a case of knowing references; it’s a superb, complex story told with confidence and sneaky wit. The message is that we should never be content to merely survive or to dream of a better world. We should live it. Ozpetek crafts the film powerfully, with real emotional resonance in the characters and layers of meaning in the imagery. The intricate shifts between flashbacks and parallel scenes are effortlessly inventive, and the film builds serious levels of suspense and drama without ever resorting to standard movie trickery.

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