"Baaria" starts in a small town in Sicily in Fascist Italy with young Peppino Torrenuova(Francesco Scianna) agreeing to buy a pack of cigarettes for an influential man who is otherwise busy with hanging out and playing games at an outdoor cafe. If he gets back by the time the man's spit dries in the dirt, he gets 20 lira which could come in handy, considering his family is always broke and forced to work menial jobs to survive, even with his father knowing how to read and still having all his own teeth. Even as the war promises to change everything, Peppino's family remains doggedly poor. But unlike his father, he takes an interest in politics to proactively put forth change for his fellow countrymen.
As good looking and memorable as "Baaria" is on occasion, it is basically just a series of slightly related vignettes, stretched out to the breaking point of where the movie becomes a slog to sit through before an ending that veers perilously close to sheer allegory about Sicily's hopes and dreams. Otherwise, there are no new insights into Sicily that we have not seen plenty of times before.(And yes, Giuseppe Tornatore, we know you directed "Cinema Paradiso.") At least, the leading character is a Communist this time around.