On paper, Ferzan Ozpetek’s “La Finestra di Fronte”
looks ridiculous. It’s the story of a horny, dissatisfied housewife who loves to bake, lusts after her neighbor and makes friends with an elderly holocaust survivor. Sounds like a sentimental Lifetime movie, I know. It just didn’t feel like one.
This is my favorite of Ozpetek’s work and my favorite of Giovanna Mezzogiorno’s, who plays Giovanna, the horny dissatisfied housewife. She’s like a lot of women – for any number of reasons she may have married the wrong guy. She’s smarter, more driven, and more responsible than her husband and is starting to resent having to carry the weight of the entire family. Watching the extremely hot, single neighbor, Lorenzo, played by Raoul Bova,
(my goodness he’s handsome) has become her escape from reality.
I know that throwing a holocaust survivor into the story might sound like a cheap, melodramatic affectation but it’s an interesting part of the story. Massimo Girotti, who had worked with De Sica, Rossellini, and Visconti (and who died shortly before this movie’s release) played Davide Virole, an Italian hero who defied the Nazis and now, an old man who has medical problems that affect his memory, isn’t quite sure but thinks his name might be SImone. Giovanna’s husband finds him wandering around, lost and confused, and tries to help him, and after Giovannna gets over her objections to a strange, old man sleeping in the bedroom next to her children’s, she develops a relationship with him that changes her life.
It’s dreamy romantic in the ways that American movies rarely get right and for me – that’s almost enough in a movie. But it’s parallel story, Davide’s, is believe it or not the perfect thing to make the perfect point – that love is bigger than just two people, and that we’re not usually aware of its power.
I’ve really had it with movie reviewers turning up their noses at emotional love stories like this one. There are still a few of us that aren’t satisfied with smarmy stories of shallow twits who fall into bed together and mistake lust for love. La Finestra di Fronte pulls together Giovanna, Davide, Lorenzo and their stories in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible if I hadn’t seen it for myself.
Here’s another one with subtitles that you can rent in the US – well worth it!
2003 – Director: Ferzan Ozpetek
Writers: Ferzan Ozpetek, Gianni Romoli
Stars: Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Massimo Girotti and Raoul Bova