Issac's Review of A Magnificent Haunting (Magnifica presenza)
Ferzan Ozpetekā(TM)s latest film is a modern ghost story, with its protagonist a young gay man (an actor-to-be), only this time, the sexual orientation drama leaves its spotlight to the haunting possession of a big family of dead theatrical actors who are trapped in an old house and disconnected from the real world, eager to find out who is the whistleblower imputed to their tragic death during the WWII.
MAGNIFICENT PRESENCE has a resourceful collection of fodder, such as romance, haunted house, ghost retribution, gay-transvestite subculture, war-time friction, light comedy and so on, two dozens of characters at hand to deploy with, but the film never quite find its centre of gravity, it leaves many loose ends which frustratingly no one minds to care.
But eventually it can pass on as a moderate piece of work thanks to Elio Germano, this promising leading man in the recent Italian film scene, is the worthy saviour, he has won BEST ACTOR in Cannes 2010 for LA NOSTRA VITA (tied with Javier Bardem for BIUTIFUL). Elio owns the entire film, injecting a quirky laid-back energy into his character while grappling with heterogeneous accidents and happenings around him (an eerie transvestite/transexual sweatshop with an obese kingpin is the wackiest among them all), his innocuous look and infantile personality renders the film a whiff of fairytale evocation. Anna Proclemer, a veteran Italian actress in her late 80s, takes on a key role which will solve all the mystery, has successfully exuded a fierce body of work in her limited stint. Otherwise, all the other supporting roles are more or less underdeveloped (including an ever-so-graceful Margherita Buy and a scene-stealer Mauro Coruzzi, a middle-aged transvestite).
I have watched quite a lot films from Ozpetek (arguably he is my favourite current Italian director though he is Turkish), the best ones are LOOSE CANNONS (2010, 8/10), SATURN IN OPPOSITION (2007, 8/10), FACING WINDOWS (2003, 8/10) and THE IGNORANT FAIRIES (2001, 8/10), MAGNIFICENT PRESENCE by comparison, has to degrade itself as a less achiever, but against all odds, Elio Germano and Anna Proclemer are the newcomers on my top 10 list this year (BEST LEADING ACTOR, BEST S. ACTRESS).