Coming next week to New York Lincoln Center’s Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, Mario Martone’s biopic about 19th century Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi is not for everyone, but for those who appreciate a good period piece will find it remarkable and brilliant.
Il Giovane Favoloso, or Leopardi, as it is being called for English-speaking audiences, stars Elio Germano as the ill and deformed poet who enjoyed success and popularity in his lifetime, and yet lived it, for the most part, in pain and suffering. A severe curvature of the spine, most likely caused by Potts disease (spinal tuberculosis) worsened as years progress and eventually caused his death from what is believed to be pulmonary edema at age 39.
Having lived his early life under a domineering father’s thumb, when he finally gets a chance to experience the world, or at least a lot of Italy, and make the best of his situation. Angrily defending his work as a manifesto of what he sees as human suffering in general and not his own in particular, Leopardi may not get the girl, but he enjoys small pleasures like gelato on the piazza and wine with the locals.
Leopardi is gorgeous and sad, and at times surprisingly relatable to the present day, with a modern soundtrack and an extremely sympathetic protagonist.
Director: Mario Martone
Writers: Mario Martone, Ippolita Di Majo
Stars: Elio Germano, Michele Riondino, Anna Mouglalis, Isabella Ragonese