Sicilian Ghost Story is a difficult film to pin down. Without the desire to spoil its content, there is a great similarity narrative-wise to Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World, released earlier this year. While Scott went the more ‘traditional’ route with a pulsating thriller that entertained, Grassadonia and Piazza send the viewer down the proverbial rabbit hole. The pair indulges in fantasy, visual poetry and long thoughtful phases of seeming nothingness, using the grizzly story as a springboard for wider thematic resonance.
The disappearance of Giuseppe (a wondrous fatalist turn from Gaetano Fernandez) is viewed through the eyes of love interest Luna (an utterly sensational turn from newcomer Julia Jedlikowska). With parents, teachers, and law enforcement officers seemingly uninterested in the case, Luna continues to pursue the clues in her attempts to find Giuseppe.
The great play by Grassadonia and Piazza is to focus entirely on the young actors. Frankly, with the talent on show here, it’s not hard to see why. Their focus is the prospect, the frustration, the end of youth. Throughout there are no scenes of deals being made, parents in distress, local town meetings or media coverage. This is a case entirely for Luna.
The use of fantastical elements to explore this loss of innocence makes for absorbing viewing, if occasionally overindulgent in the first act. The choice to elevate the source material to this new, perhaps unpredicted, level is a great editorial decision. Rather than a standard run-of-the-mill investigation, the filmmakers have created a peculiar, melancholic take on youth, with a chilling view of the grizzly world they inhabit.
A fascinating interpretation of a true story within the heart of Sicily. Meandering, yes, but a deeply intriguing and interesting take on the demise of youth, the hope of love and power of poetry.
CAST: Julia Jedlikowska, Gaetano Fernandez, Corinne Musallari, Andrea Falzone
DIRECTORS: Fabio Grassadonia, Antonio Piazza
WRITERS: Fabio Grassadonia, Antonio Piazza, Marco Mancassola (story “Un cavaliere bianco” from the book “Non saremo confusi per sempre”)
SYNOPSIS: In a little Sicilian village at the edge of a forest, Giuseppe, a boy of 13, vanishes. Luna, his classmate who loves him, refuses to accept his mysterious disappearance. She rebels against the silence and complicity that surround her, and to find him she descends into the dark world which has swallowed him up and which has a lake as its mysterious entrance. Only their indestructible love will be able to bring her back along.