Review: ‘South of the Sun’

Relating the story of a volatile adolescent pained by separation from his handicapped twin brother, director Pasquale Marrazzo's vigorous approach in "South of the Sun" mimics the vitality, impulsiveness and urgency of youth. The feverish drama's breathless pacing and jittery, probing camerawork fail to camouflage its lack of narrative backbone.

Relating the story of a volatile adolescent pained by separation from his handicapped twin brother, director Pasquale Marrazzo’s vigorous approach in “South of the Sun” mimics the vitality, impulsiveness and urgency of youth. The feverish drama’s breathless pacing and jittery, probing camerawork fail to camouflage its lack of narrative backbone or a more fully developed directorial style, but the modest Italian indie’s very physical storytelling and loose, unscripted quality should ensure further stops on the festival map.

Marrazzo dives right into the action, with characters constantly hurtling down corridors, up stairs or in and out of buildings, only pausing momentarily to provide background as the story advances. Angered by the refusal of their father (Giorgio Gentile) to take responsibility for his brother (Filippo Venuti), a Down’s syndrome sufferer in a care facility, Giovanni (Giovanni Brignola) and his equally reckless girlfriend (Elisabetta D’Arco) resort to robbery and kidnapping to rescue him from adoption. The cast brings energy and sincerity to the drama of fractured families, but the skittish, uncontrolled handheld camerawork and cranked-up conflicts make it visually wearing and dramatically overwrought.

South of the Sun

Italy

Production

An N.O.I. Produzione Cinematografica production. Produced, directed by Pasquale Marrazzo. Screenplay, Marrazzo, Roberto Traverso.

Crew

Camera (color), Massimo Foletti; editor, Paola Freddi; art director, Alessandra Brioschi; costume designer, Maria Lucia Lapolla. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (New Directors), Sept. 25, 2001. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- Discovery.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Giovanni Brignola, Elisabetta D'Arco, Cristina Donadio, Filippo Venuti, Raffaella Boscolo, Beniamino Bertoldo, Matteo Speroni, Giorgio Gentile, Antonio Spitaleri.
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