Friday, August 07, 2009

La Stella Che Non C'è (The Missing Star)

A poignant film with a story that feels like an excellent excuse to take us into a rarely seen China as not only is the vision of an Italian director but also of an Italian cinematographer that uses an exquisite palette of greens, blues and hazy grays to produce a very realistic feel of locations that include Chinese countryside, industrial sites and cityscapes.

This Gianni Amelio film tells the story of maintenance worker at a steel company, Vincenzo (Sergio Castellitto), who worries about a deficient control unit of an Italian blast furnace that has been sold to China. Vincenzo fixes the problem and decides to travel to China to tell the new owners how to solve the defect. Once in China he finds that the buyers he met in Italy were intermediaries, the main buyer chief was fired and nobody knows where the furnace went. So with the aid of an Italian speaking guide, Liu Hua (Tai Ling), that he met in Italy, he goes into the quest to find where the furnace is. In his quest he takes us inside a not often seen China and allows us to follow a silent drama between two very different characters that slowly –very slowly- unravel their own lives drama with very little dialogue and great silences where actor’s face expressions tell all.

I have always enjoyed Castellitto performances but here I believe that is one of his best ever, as he truly excels with his face expressions and gorgeous silences; just because this performance the movie is more than worth to be seen. But newcomer Tai Ling performance is highly remarkable and in my opinion has moments where she overshadows great Castellitto. That’s how good she is. Tech specs are really impeccable and the entire film becomes truly mesmerizing.

The movie premiered at 2006 Venice fest where was in competition for the Golden Lion and was honored with the Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award and the Pasinetti Award.

Definitively a “surprising” –and very unexpected- great Italian film that I know that everybody that like serious and art cinema will enjoy; which makes it not for all audiences, but also because has a great finale that it’s left to viewers to finish as they wish.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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