That being said, I can’t really apologize for not loving Bella e Perduta, even though I can understand why others might. Its blend of documentary and fantasy goes right over my head. I’m a vegetarian, and I really hate movies about animals in peril, so I loved the buffalo calf in the film. I want to adopt it.
A shepherd Tommaso, in the Campania region of southern Italy is a volunteer caretaker for an abandoned Bourbon palace of Carditello and does it with no help from the government, even when the Mafia is threatening him. When the actual Tommaso has heart attack and dies while they are making a kind of road trip movie across Italy, the film takes an unexpected turn.
“We arrived in la Reggia di Carditello to make one of the episodes of the film and we met Tommaso Cestrone, “The Angel of Carditello”…and when Tommaso died suddenly Christmas age of a heart attack, my co-author Maurizio Bracci and I decided to continue this story,” said Marcello.
Obviously I am in the minority because the film has been highly praised. New York Times film critic A.O. Scott said:
His (the fanciful Pulcinella’s) mission is to protect a water buffalo calf that Tommaso had cared for. The animal, named Sarchiapone, narrates part of the film in voice-over, reflecting on the cruelty of his situation — since he can’t give milk, he’s destined for the slaughterhouse — and on the beauty of creation. His ruminations (voiced by Elio Germano) contribute to the film’s quiet sense of magic. It doesn’t so much feel surreal as uncannily ancient, like a faded fresco or a fragment of poetry come to life…
…The spirit of the film blends mourning with perseverance, and above all acknowledges, with impish wit and lyrical solemnity, the virtues of steadfastness, represented by Tommaso, and imagination, represented by Pulcinella. Mr. Marcello tells a simple, touching tale that seems to contain a whole cosmos of meaning.
So for once, don’t listen to me. Go see it, and then do me a favor. Explain it to me.