How did I miss this? Terraferma is available for streaming on Netflix!
I don’t know what a tourist’s expectation of Italy is these days, but I have a feeling that many are looking for something that is slipping away, right through the fingers of those who hold it dear.
In Terraferma, director Emanuele Crialese takes a good long look at the problem and for his effort was awarded the special jury prize at the Venice Film Festival. Terraferma is set on Lampedusa, an island south of Sicily, and tells the tale of a fishing boat captain who runs into a raft filled with African immigrants and loses his boat after he saves them, an act that has been proclaimed illegal by the Italian government. Are the police and the government the bad guys in this movie, or is it a little more complicated?
It’s a little more complicated.
Terraferma is about as close to perfect as a movie gets, and yet it’s all so simple. It tells a story that is timely and timeless all at once, about people that want to remain relevant in a fast changing world, preferably without losing their way of life.
A grandfather and his grandson, played by the astonishingly natural Fiilippo Pucillo, are fishermen on Lampedusa, a place that’s been getting a lot of attention in the news lately because of the huge influx of immigrants pouring in from Libya and Tunisia. One new report claims that 19,000 migrants have arrived on the little island since January, shocking, because the normal population is usually about 5,300.
This is a problem that truly has two sides, with fishermen who find it against their nature to deny aid to people in trouble at sea and are at odds with a country ( a continent in effect) that cannot handle the rate of immigration. And what about the tourism that an island like Lampedusa depends on? Do tourists want to spend their vacation thinking about this stuff, let alone witnessing dead bodies wash up on the beach?
Crialese discovered Filippo Pucillo as a child on Lampedusa for a role in Respiro, with Valeria Golino, and it turned out that he had a pretty good eye for raw talent. Pucillo went on to star in the award-winning Nuovomodo (Golden Door) and has now triumphed in his role as Filippo,the boy who doesn’t really want to do anything more than be a fisherman like his grandfather and his father.
His mother, played by Donatella Finocchiaro, is an actress that America should know; the pain, loss, anger, guilt, and sadness that she portrays in her character is nothing less than brilliant. She’s lost her husband to the sea and she sees the writing on the wall – there is nothing left for her on her island. She can find work 2 months out of the year when the tourists are there and that’s it. She’s desperate and she’s also lonely. And she wants more for her son.