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Cinema Paradiso

It might have been the mood I was in at the time, but I found this film overlong, exhaustive and - if there's such a thing - too comprehensive.

With a plot that can simply be summed up as 'one man's life, completely', it touched millions with its themes of friendship and growing up against the backdrop of the magic of the movies.

We start by meeting a middle aged man who's been told an old friend from his childhood home has died. We then follow his life from infancy to where he is now. As a young boy in a small Sicilian town, he falls in love with the magic of movies and relentlessly makes his way into the friendship of the gruff but kindly projectionist.

We then follow him to his teens and early adulthood as he falls in love, goes to war and yet still feels an emotional anchor in the flyspeck town where his beloved Cinema Paradiso remains.

We discover that he's been told by the projectionist (in faith of him going far in life) to stay away and never look back at his home town, the reason why he's been estranged from his family and roots for so long.

While chronicling the young life of the hero, it's a sweet and touching tale. But the final act of him pursuing the old ghosts as a grown man and successful filmmaker somehow don't feel like they belong, erasing all the charm the cinema in the film spends the running time trying (and succeeding) to evoke.

As he did in Malena, director Tornatore pulls your heartstrings effectively and understands the simplistic and powerful nature of the love of a child that we all carry around somewhere, it just never seems to end.

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