Agata and the Storm

Director: Silvio Soldini

Nominated for eight David Di Donatello Awards (the Italian Oscars), this frothy, magical celebration of beauty and sexuality in a middle-aged cast has drawn critical comparisons to Almodovar and Jeunet for its sense of whimsy and usage of bright colors and vivid cinematography that pop off the screen. However, Silvio Soldini’s tale of three distinctly different characters who learn that they are related and come together to form a unique family bound more by compassion and love than blood reminded me more of Lasse Hallstrom’s Chocolat for its offbeat characters and welcome, inviting atmosphere that draws viewers in from the beginning. We want to be a part of this Italian community and for roughly two hours we are. Leading a stellar cast, Licia Maglietta shines as Agata, a beautiful, intelligent bookstore owner involved in a passionate affair with a married man thirteen years her junior. When she has her heart broken (until a twist near the end reminiscent of Sturges’s Palm Beach Story), the resulting “storm” throughout her body causes electrical shorts as she manages to burn out light bulbs and affect toasters, hair dryers and street lamps simply by using them. Her beloved straight-laced architect brother Gustavo (played by Emilio Solfrizzi) has his workaholic life and marriage to a sensual female television version of Dr. Phil shaken by the news that biologically he’s related to a philandering, charismatic clothing salesman named Romeo (portrayed with fiery charisma by Giuseppe Battidton). Romeo, ritually unfaithful yet deeply in love with his wheelchair bound wife Daria (Maria Nappo), lives the life of a passionate dreamer and manages to teach his newfound brother Gustavo and sister Agata a thing or two, and they rub off on him as well. Perfectly charming, full of spirit and life, Agata and the Storm is Italian cinema at its most joyous, once again delivered to audiences from filmmovement.com and available at most larger public libraries.