Saturday, August 1, 2009

Il Postino (1994/95)

A simple Italian postman learns to love poetry while delivering mail to famous poet Pablo Neruda; he uses this to woo local beauty Beatrice. [imdb]

Nominated for 5 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director: Michael Radford
Best Actor: Massimo Troisi
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Original Score (WINNER)

I think this film got a reputation for 2 reasons that are actually interconnected. First: its leading actor died of a heart attack less than a day after the filming ended. And second: I still don't understand (and I bet I'm not the only one) how a small Italian film released in 1994 and in the USA in June 1995, without any big names attached to it, ignored by the Golden Globes, with an unknown director and a very slow story received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director!!! I think it's one of the most confusing Oscar nominations of its decade.

The film itself is not bad. It's just that it's sooooooo slow in the first hour. And I don't have a problem with foreign language film, I actually understand a bit of Italian. But there's nothing going on and Massimo Troisi's acting goes from bad to confusing to plain ordinary. He does get much better towards the end of the film, but I suspect the nomination can be justified just by the tragic story surrounding the actor (and the fact that the category had 2 empty seats). Not worthy. The direction is fine, again, especially in the ending, but not worthy of a nomination (not when Ang Lee, Ron Howard and Scorsese were ignored that year).

There's nothing to hate about this film, except for Troisi's acting in the first part. The last 30 minutes go from good to very good to a spectacular unexpected ending; and quite emotional. I do suspect it was the ending that got the voters. The adapted screenplay nomination is fine with me, also the win for Best Original Score (I can't decide between this music and the one from Braveheart).

My rating for the film: 7/10. Boring, slow, but with a very good last chapter. Yet, mostly overrated.


  1. I'm generally skeptic about Oscar movies, mostly because a lot of fine movies never get nominated, and some of them turn out to be mytical as time passes, and better that the Oscar winner of its year.

    I've got to say that I remember this film fondly, and the great (GREAT!) Phillipe Noiret and Maria Grazia Cucinotta were a real delight to watch.

    This having been said, I remember this film fondly... Having had my share of Russian and japanese films on my menu, I don't mind a film being slow, LOL.

    For an Hispanic person, the fact that the story deals with Pablo Neruda gives it a further factor of endearment (Neruda is one of the finest poets in Spanish language: give a chance to his seminal "Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Canción Desesperada" if you have the chance). The film represents Neruda in exile for being "persona non grata" to a dictatorial Chilean regime.

  2. I can see why a personal, language-connected factor can make one favor a movie. :)