We love to gossip. Especially if there is a drop dead gorgeous, standoffish woman who turns every man’s head – we would so love to damn her to the deepest realms of hell! Men would love to fantasize her or fulfill their desire and flush her like some used toilet paper and women would be insecure by her mere presence and wag their tongue about what a tart she is.
Malena vividly reflects how a group of men and women can come together and collaboratively bring down a woman everyone desires secretly. And in the midst of it all is a young boy whose pubescent desires go all haywire. Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore , Malena stars Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro and Luciano Federico.
Malena shows the Facist era of 1940 in Italy. While the townsfolk of Castelcuto of Sicily, are busy pledging for Mussolini, there is a young boy of thirteen whose only predicament are his raging hormones and the stunning Malena accelerates the frenetic goings on into an overdrive. Apart from politics it is the mysterious and lonely Malena that unites the towns people. Her husband is away fighting and she is left behind to take care of her father in law. She keeps to herself, dedicated only to the task at hand. Her grace, elegance and beauty becomes the talk of the town and she is the fodder for all the gossip. Everyone assumes that she must be having a relationship outside her marriage and it is the news of her husband’s martyrdom that makes the men believe that she is now available to meet their desires. Meanwhile Renato’s infatuation develops into an obsession and he begins to follow her everywhere and spy on her, which unwittingly makes him the sole witness to all her trials and tribulations.
Renato deems Malena a Goddess and in the four years that go by, he sees her elevated status defiled and marred by the lustful men and the jealous and despising women. Her beauty becomes her curse when a local lawyer promises to clear her name from a jealous wife’s lawsuit and demands his payment to be in kind. As shortages loom due to the war, Malena has to constantly barter favors to get one square meal and is soon forced into prostitution for her survival. When the war ends, the townsfolk take revenge on Malena – the women surround and pounce on her, beating her up and hurling insults until she is thrown out of the town.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel and the tables are turned. Malena’s husband returns and he seeks her out and asks for her forgiveness for letting her alone in the world full of merciless people. Renato who had suffered when Malena fell from grace was overjoyed with this last act of forgiveness that absolved all her faults and elevated her to her previous status of elegance.
Malena is a yarn seen from Renato’s eyes. He is the narrator and it is his coming of age story that focuses on how his perception of her makes him comprehend the true meaning of love, lust, devotion and fidelity.
Malena explores themes of collaboration, bigotry, lust, guilt and the very human will to survive.They are all wrapped into one moving and emotional film that feels epic in scale. It is almost a study of human behavior , behavior that cuts across borders, race, culture and rings true even at our modern age of open mindedness.
I leave you with some of the best scenes of Monica Belucci as Malena