Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Terraferma

Beautiful, superbly acted Italian-French co-production set on a small tradition-bound Italian fishing island that has become an unintended destination for African refugees stranded in the nearby waters. A rich emotional journey for filmgoers.

July 24, 2013

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1381788-Terraferma_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Emanuele Crialese goes macro with spectacular scenery and micro with a gripping drama about some well-meaning, struggling island folk confronted with African asylum-seekers struggling to reach the Italian mainland that will be their “terra firma.” Also a poignant consideration of traditional ways and so-called “progress” touted to improve things, Terraferma is a nostalgic type of high-quality foreign drama that, in the old days, would have “stuck” on screens or become classic in some sense. In today’s world, suffice it to say that the film will grip viewers seeking entertainment with substance and style.

The plot is fairly straightforward but emotions run deep, twists surprise and provoke thought, and stakes reach life-or-death proportions. Filippo (Filippo Pucillo) is a 20-year-old islander who lost his fisherman father to the sea but continues the family tradition of fishing for a living with ailing grandfather Ernesto (Mimmo Cuticchio) on their old boat off their tiny island near Sicily.

But big changes are on the horizon and in the waters. Filippo’s uncle Nino (Giuseppe Fiorello) is intent on moving with the times and pressures his nephew and father Ernesto to junk the boat, calling his dad “the last one doing this work” and his nephew “rudderless” with no real career in sight. Nino wants his 70-year-old father to retire and his nephew to provide boat tours for the increasing number of tourists visiting the island.

Filippo and Ernesto face harsh realities when they discover African refugees stranded in the waters and their boat suffers serious damage and must be moved to dry dock for repairs. On Nino’s side to abandon fishing for the tourist trade is Filippo’s mother Giulietta (Donatella Finocchiaro), who even moves their living quarters from a spacious few rooms to the garage so they can rent their home to guests.

Filippo goes with the family flow. When a large ferry from the mainland disgorges hundreds of visitors on the island, he enthusiastically hawks their home as a perfect rental and their boat, not exactly yet seaworthy, as an added amenity.

The biggest wave of change comes by way of Sara (Timnit T.), a pregnant African woman and her son, whom Filippo rescues at sea and moves surreptitiously into his and his mother’s garage quarters. Giulietta, at first hostile, warms to the woman and, eventually, her newborn.

Meanwhile, Filippo has wrangled a trio of young visitors to rent their home. He takes a fancy to Maura (Martina Codecasa), the lone female traveling from Milan with friends Marco (Filippo Scarafia) and Stefano (Pierpaolo Spollon), but the class divide is clear. And Filippo’s harrowing nighttime incident with the young woman on the water will propel him in new directions.

Most menacing are the island police, especially embodied by ultra-determined officer Finanziere (Claudio Santamaria), who aggressively tries to ferret out the illegals rumored to be hidden on the island. Maybe suspecting Filippo’s family, he stonewalls his boat-tour business, claiming there’s no permit.

As Filippo, his grandfather and mother sense the authorities closing in on the illegals they’re hiding, the family, including the once-reluctant Giulietta, embark upon a plan to help Sara, her new baby and son escape to the mainland. A close call leads to unexpected events. And a final shot that is profoundly haunting.

Depicting the clash of a family’s tradition-bound moral imperatives with the new laws and tourist-driven ways of the land, Terraferma is a feast for eyes and ears as well as food for thought.


Film Review: Terraferma

Beautiful, superbly acted Italian-French co-production set on a small tradition-bound Italian fishing island that has become an unintended destination for African refugees stranded in the nearby waters. A rich emotional journey for filmgoers.

July 24, 2013

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1381788-Terraferma_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Emanuele Crialese goes macro with spectacular scenery and micro with a gripping drama about some well-meaning, struggling island folk confronted with African asylum-seekers struggling to reach the Italian mainland that will be their “terra firma.” Also a poignant consideration of traditional ways and so-called “progress” touted to improve things, Terraferma is a nostalgic type of high-quality foreign drama that, in the old days, would have “stuck” on screens or become classic in some sense. In today’s world, suffice it to say that the film will grip viewers seeking entertainment with substance and style.

The plot is fairly straightforward but emotions run deep, twists surprise and provoke thought, and stakes reach life-or-death proportions. Filippo (Filippo Pucillo) is a 20-year-old islander who lost his fisherman father to the sea but continues the family tradition of fishing for a living with ailing grandfather Ernesto (Mimmo Cuticchio) on their old boat off their tiny island near Sicily.

But big changes are on the horizon and in the waters. Filippo’s uncle Nino (Giuseppe Fiorello) is intent on moving with the times and pressures his nephew and father Ernesto to junk the boat, calling his dad “the last one doing this work” and his nephew “rudderless” with no real career in sight. Nino wants his 70-year-old father to retire and his nephew to provide boat tours for the increasing number of tourists visiting the island.

Filippo and Ernesto face harsh realities when they discover African refugees stranded in the waters and their boat suffers serious damage and must be moved to dry dock for repairs. On Nino’s side to abandon fishing for the tourist trade is Filippo’s mother Giulietta (Donatella Finocchiaro), who even moves their living quarters from a spacious few rooms to the garage so they can rent their home to guests.

Filippo goes with the family flow. When a large ferry from the mainland disgorges hundreds of visitors on the island, he enthusiastically hawks their home as a perfect rental and their boat, not exactly yet seaworthy, as an added amenity.

The biggest wave of change comes by way of Sara (Timnit T.), a pregnant African woman and her son, whom Filippo rescues at sea and moves surreptitiously into his and his mother’s garage quarters. Giulietta, at first hostile, warms to the woman and, eventually, her newborn.

Meanwhile, Filippo has wrangled a trio of young visitors to rent their home. He takes a fancy to Maura (Martina Codecasa), the lone female traveling from Milan with friends Marco (Filippo Scarafia) and Stefano (Pierpaolo Spollon), but the class divide is clear. And Filippo’s harrowing nighttime incident with the young woman on the water will propel him in new directions.

Most menacing are the island police, especially embodied by ultra-determined officer Finanziere (Claudio Santamaria), who aggressively tries to ferret out the illegals rumored to be hidden on the island. Maybe suspecting Filippo’s family, he stonewalls his boat-tour business, claiming there’s no permit.

As Filippo, his grandfather and mother sense the authorities closing in on the illegals they’re hiding, the family, including the once-reluctant Giulietta, embark upon a plan to help Sara, her new baby and son escape to the mainland. A close call leads to unexpected events. And a final shot that is profoundly haunting.

Depicting the clash of a family’s tradition-bound moral imperatives with the new laws and tourist-driven ways of the land, Terraferma is a feast for eyes and ears as well as food for thought.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here