Thesp-turned-helmer John Turturro pens a cinematic love letter to the swinging sounds of the Italian city of Naples and to the city itself in “Passione.” Structurally similar to music docus like “The Buena Vista Social Club,” pic’s pleasant collage of reportage and musical perfs features locally renowned recording artists adding their contempo spin to classic Neapolitan songs, often while acting out mini melodramas at the same time in real locations. Pic was rapturously received by Italian auds at the Venice fest, but offshore auds are unlikely to show the same passion for the material.
American-born writer-helmer Turturro pops up throughout as the pic’s amiable compeer, introducing background about the songs or just generally musing rhapsodically about the deeply melodious city he so clearly loves. Tunes range from classics like Sergio Bruni’s “Carmela” (sung here by Mina) and “O Sole Mio” (snazzily updated by Massimo Ranieri and M’Barka Ben Taleb) to new material by Pino Daniele Enzo Avitabile. Arrangements mostly have a percussive, jazzy edge, and the pic will rep an inviting sampler for those abroad interested in exploring Italian music further. Tech credits are fine.