Arturo's Island (Isola di Arturo, L')

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An early melodrama from director Damiano Damiani, this overheated coming-of-age story concerns a neglected teenager (Vanni De Maigret) living on an island in the Bay of Naples. Arturo's widowed father (Reginald Kernan) shows up one day with an attractive new wife (Kay Meersman), and leaves them together when he goes off on one of his frequent trips. Alone with his beautiful stepmother and his nascent desires, Arturo falls deeply in love. As viewers of Damiani's overwrought Amityville II: The Possession can probably guess, Elsa Morante's bittersweet romantic novel is left by the wayside in favor of almost comical heavy-breathing and repressed sexuality. Damiani's heavy-handed direction makes such similar films as Luna and Spanking the Monkey look relatively restrained by comparison, and only a relatively restrained performance by Meersman keeps the film from degenerating into abject farce. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi


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