STUDIO: Koch Lorber Films
MSRP: $26.98
RATED: Unrated
• 8-page booklet with Fiorile essay by Italian cinema expert Peter Bondanella
• 55 minute featurette: “The Boys from San Miniato: Meeting with Paolo and Vittorio Taviani”

The Pitch

Let’s look at some freaky cursed Italian family. Yeah, that’s all I have.

The Humans

Claudio Bigagli, Galatea Ranzi, Michael Vartan, Lino Capolicchio and Vittorio Taviani

What a lot about people don’t know is that Maledetti translates to Maurice – The Space Cowboy.

The Nutshell

Fiorile is a family saga crafted by master Italian filmmaking brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. The film starts with Elisabetta Beneditti as she falls in love with a young French lieutenant. Elisabetta’s brother steals some gold coins that are under the lieutenant’s charge. When the coins aren’t returned, the lieutenant is killed for the crime that he didn’t commit. A century passes and Elisabetta’s ancestor gets knocked up by a douchebag. The resulting progeny is visited by the ghost of the slain lieutenant and I wonder why I’m watching this film non-baked. 

You know it’s a bad day when you look like Ed Harris and Dan Hedaya fucked.

The Lowdown

Fiorile opens with Massimo Beneditti explaining to his son’s children that the family is cursed. The kids don’t buy it, so Massimo unveils a series of creepy stories. Basically, the family’s been fucked over a case of stolen coins. The film dwells in false hope and fate. Everyone is rescinded to despair, as they are unknowingly placed in a path of repeating failure. It works well with the tale of the French Lieutenant Jean. He’s an invader during the Napoleonic era.

He slides into Italy and takes romantic pity on a local girl. There’s no reason for him to do this, but it starts the ball rolling towards the Beneditti clan’s doom across time. When you get to the modern era and watch how it has played out for Massimo, you see what the Tavianis were trying to achieve with the film. The sense of being chained to original sin and the fact that you can escape from under your family’s shadow is scary. The closest film I can think that matches the tone would have to be Hitchcock’s Rebecca.

Who wants to make the rape? Come this way, yes?

The repetition of imagery in the film feels a little harsh to most viewers. If you thought the ideas of the film were slammed over and over again, you’ll have to deal with the same visual setups. It’s almost as though the directors reached out of the screen and rammed your face into the subtext. I know several fans of the brothers’ work and their greater contributions to the Italian Cinema. But, they’ve got the tact of Stanley Kramer jerking off onto Helen Keller’s tainted eyeballs.

The Package

Fiorile is a standard International Cinema release from Koch Lorber. You get a fascinating booklet that details the nature of the Tavianis’ films. I never got the answer of why they make thirty minutes of content and then try to pass it off as a nearly two hour film. But, the little documentary about their lives was neat. It’s nice to see people go from rags to riches.

Get used to seeing this a lot in the film.

The A/V Quality is pretty sharp. You get very little digital noise, except when you go to pause. I noticed this on the computer DVD-Rom and on a Sony HDMI upscaler I keep for the standard definition reviews. This tends to be a sign of poor authoring and it doesn’t stand out that much. The Dolby 2.0 track is clean as hell and it doesn’t drop a word of the original Italian language dialogue. I wish every foreign film got this much respect.  

But, it all doesn’t mean a damn thing if you can’t accept the Taviani dream-like style. These guys have such a style that it alienates those that can’t accept the aesthetic. I had troubles with the approach, but it wasn’t enough to scare me off their film. What fucked the experience for me was the lack of developed story. I get the curse aspect, but give me some resolution.

This is what Naboo looks like. Italy is dirtier. Don’t be fooled.

6.0 out of 10