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By Luisa F. Ribeiro | Posted

Touted as another tender coming-of-age saga from writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), Malèna wraps nostalgic gauze around a film that's 100 percent leer. The title character (played by model Monica Bellucci) isn't so much a person as a thing made up of breasts, legs, and, as most of the males in the movie note, "the best ass in town." Newly arrived in a circa-'40s Sicilian village, with her husband off at war, Malèna quickly becomes the ultimate fantasy of every male in her village and the ultimate nightmare of every female. Barely speaking a word the whole movie, she epitomizes the tiresome, archaic, but, sadly, not obsolete Madonna/whore figure that holds sway over the male imagination--especially that of 13-year-old Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro), who, alone in a town that first drools over then despises Malèna, appreciates her purity. Renato's fantasies, driven by predictably raging adolescent hormones, are meant to be charming and innocent, but they merely underscore the film's sad message: Only the experience of boys and men matter; women are nothing at all. (Luisa F. Ribeiro) At the Charles Theatre.

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