In a small town in Sicily, during the last years of dictator Mussolini, lives young and beautiful Malena (Monica Bellucci). Since her husband left for the war, she has become the object of desire of most men in that place. The women hate her with the same passion. Her only sin is her attractiveness and she will pay a high price for it.

One day she receives news of her husband presumably being killed. Her suitors, as hungry vultures, begin to arrive in all shapes and ages, and her story turns almost tragic from then on.

Through the eyes of a precocious infatuated teenager named Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro), who spies on her at first with lust and later falls in love from a distance, director Giuseppe Tornatore shows her ordeal going from shame to redemption. The script by Luciano Vincenzoni is humorous at times, emotionally intense at others, while giving us a picture of a time and age on this island full of beauty and tragedy. This 2000 film shows the human condition at its worst, the power of sexual attraction that sometimes dehumanizes the desired person, the mob mentality, its cruelty, and the redeeming value of true love and integrity.

Ennio Morricone‘ score is fundamental in highlighting certain scenes with appealing subtle notes, his usual melodic muse difficult to ignore. Sicily’s warmth and splendor is appreciated thanks to Lajos Koltai, whose cinematography along with Morricone’s music, make us, like Renato, remember Malena forever.

See also by Giuseppe Tornatore: Cinema Paradiso (1988)/ The Star Maker (1995)

See also Monica Bellucci in: Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)/ The Whistleblower (2010)

Miramax Pictures

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