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  • "You must demand to live in a better world... Don't be content to merely survive."


    The warm colors, lovely performances, textured messages and thoughtful ideas that are layered throughout Ferzan Ozpetek's 'Facing Windows' will make you cherish cinema just a little bit more than you already do. It's a romantic treasure about unrequited love, familial responsibility, sexual longing and following the path in life that makes you happiest. The notion that you can really love someone else only when you've learned to love yourself may be a familiar one, but it is nice to be reminded every now and then. 'Facing Windows' is about all those things and the realization that the memories of those who truly touch our hearts can inspire us to live better lives.

    Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) and her husband Filippo (Filippo Nigro) have settled into life. They both have jobs that make them unhappy. She works as an accountant. He works the graveyard shift because he is too weak to ask his boss for a daytime slot. They argue about money, sex, time and work... There is a subtle sense that this is a marriage whose love is dwindling fast. Perhaps they are only going through the motions for the sake of their kids.

    One morning, the two of them are walking home and cross paths with an elderly man (Massimo Girotti). He is utterly disoriented and has lost his memory. And despite Giovanna's protests, Filippo brings him back to their home for the night so that he can take him to the police the next morning in the hopes of unraveling the mystery. As complications ensue, that one night stretches to a few days. The old man experiences strange episodes, flashbacks of sorts, that reveal clues to his mysterious past. His actions lead to a meeting between Giovanna and Lorenzo (Raoul Bova). Lorenzo lives across the street from Giovanna and their apartment windows face each other. The sexual tension between the two is quite palpable as they have both been secretly watching and lusting after each other from their dimly lit windows.

    Giovanna and Lorenzo's instant friendship swiftly moves to flirtation and then to a passionate kiss. However, Lorenzo's job is transferring him to another city very soon and Giovanna is put in an awkward spot having to make a very quick decision. Her heart tells her she should act on her feelings. Her mind tells her to be responsible. Nevertheless, the two of them puzzle over the mystery of the old man as they try to come to terms with their feelings for one another.

    The beauty of this film is the way in which it balances many layers of story and character. Everyone in the film has something interesting happening in their lives and it all seems to revolve around the influence of the old man. These days, we are lucky if films give us one thing to think about, let alone many things. 'Facing Windows' (aka La Finestra di Fronte) is delightfully stimulating for both mind and heart.

    I have to point out the performances in this film. 'Facing Windows' swept the David di Donatello Awards (Italian Oscars) for good reason. The film is brilliant but the performances are spectacular. Giovanna Mezzogiorno has vaulted straight to the top of my list of favorite actresses with her role here and in 2002's lovely film 'The Last Kiss' (L'Ultimo Bacio). She is the most dramatic actress I think I have ever seen, able to combine genuine fragility with a toughness and intensity that will give you goose-bumps. She has the most cinematically beautiful face I think I've seen and a talent that is remarkably rare. In just two films, she has earned my trust entirely... I will be first in line to see anything else she does.

    Massimo Girotti is equally powerful as the mysterious old man. He is able to convey every necessary emotion in this tricky role. This was to be Girotti's final role before passing in 2003. It is a performance you won't soon forget.

    Raoul Bova and Filippo Nigro are great in the secondary roles and round out one of the best ensemble casts of 2004.

    'Facing Windows' is one of those aesthetically marvelous Italian films that sounds as great as it looks. It is fun and surprising, unpredictable and touching. Giovanna Mezzogiorno is a special actress who is fast becoming one of Europe's biggest stars. You will be seeing a lot more from her in the next two decades. I cannot recommend a film much more than this one.

    I highly recommend you seek this film out in theatres because it can take forever for these foreign gems to hit DVD (Sometimes up to 2 years). 'Facing Windows' will vie for a slot in my year end top ten list and deserves your time and money. Make an effort to find this great Italian film!


    TC Candler - Critical Mass Movies -

  • "Facing Windows (La Finestra di fronte)" is like a very European and more sophisticated take on "The Notebook," as it shifts between romantic and culinary past and present through the in-and-out consciousness of an elderly man.

    The "Rear Window" eroticism is just one element that accidentally brings together tangled, stymied lives swirling around lovely, exhausted, frustrated chef, wife and mother Giovanna Mezzogiorno, where each child, man, woman, friend and neighbor has separate priorities and fantasies that annoying real life interferes with, from the practical to the political.

    Each character and their ties are both delightfully and surprisingly complex and the actors are so comfortable bringing each to complete life that you think you too should be able to come out of the theater speaking Italian so naturally.

    But this is a frank, gritty, contemporary, urban Italy we don't usually get to see, with multi-racial immigrants, underemployment and a Fascist past.

    The sentimentalism of the live with no regrets lesson is leavened by the seriousness of the final revelations and the compromises that each character still makes.

    The music selections nicely fit each character.
  • An Italian movie that starts as a pleasant but otherwise unremarkable tale of a nine year old marriage and an old man wandering the streets with no memory and a pocketful of money. We are drawn in by the rather lovable (if all too human and imperfect) characters until, half way through, the film explodes with moments of real beauty, passion and tenderness. The cinematography deftly weaves flashbacks and fleeting glances from within the minds of the main characters, their memories merging seamlessly for a few moments with the real life around them. The script contains gems that you want to remember.

    Italian star Giovanna Mezzogiorno is superb as the wife who seems to be locked in a constant struggle with her husband and attracted to the man in the apartment facing theirs. But Facing Window proves to be far more than melodrama triangle: echoes of the Nazi holocaust and the inner strength to realize one's true feelings, as well as one's true calling ... 'it isn't enough to dream about a better life, you must demand it.' For those who like something more substantial to their cinema than popcorn and nachos, Facing Window fits the bill with effortless grace.
  • I very much appreciated Ozpetek's previous film, "Le fate ignoranti", which has earned him a lot of respect on the part of both audiences and critics, in Italy and beyond. I was reluctant to go see this film because of the casting of Raoul Bova (a second-rate actor who doesn't have much substance behind his good looks and began his career as a teenage heartthrob - what a pity it didn't end there) and because of the reference to the Nazi deportation of Roman Jews, which took place on October 16th, 1943 - I just felt that to use this as a pretext for a gay love story was kind of cheap. But nearly everyone I knew who had gone see the film kept me telling that it was good, so I became so curious that I decided to go. Well, my friends were absolutely right.

    Ozpetek's strength is his ability to portray characters that are realistic without being obvious, so everyone can relate to them without identifying with them. He showed that already good ability in "Le fate ignoranti" as well, but this time he seems to have developed it even further. His approach is always personal, and this enables him to make films that are deeply introspective. It is the kind of films that the French are usually good at making, but Ozpetek in not an imitator. What makes his films so DIFFERENT is that there seems an emotional involvement that is very difficult to find elsewhere; at the same time, this never translates into trite sentimentalism or dull rhetoric.

    This is an outstanding film, and this is so also thanks to the performances given by most of the actors. Massimo Girotti, in his last appearance before his death, shows that, at about 80 years of age, he was still able to be a first-class actor (and this explains why he featured in so many films by Visconti); after this film, which is dedicated to him, we will all miss him even more than we already did. Giovanna Mezzogiorno, the daughter of a late actor herself, also gives an outstanding performance as the woman who finds herself at the crossroads and is torn between passion and the responsibilities of everyday life, between reality and desire, just like so many of us often are. Filippo Nigro, who also featured in a minor role in "Le fate ignoranti", is given a more important role in this film, and deservedly so. The only exception is Raoul Bova, and I wonder why Ozpetek seems to have a compelling need to cast "actors" who are more sort of toy boys, mostly in secondary roles (Bova in this case, Gabriel Garko in "Le fate ignoranti"), who usually have very limited acting abilities and who almost inevitably end up faring very poorly and suffering from the comparison that is inevitably drawn between their performances and those of the other actors who feature in the films; which is even more striking if we take into account the fact that Ozpetek seems to have the ability to rejuvenate actors and to make them play characters that are very different from their clichés (as an example, consider not only Massimo Girotti in this case, but also Margherita Buy in "le fate ignoranti").

    Just one word for the soundtrack, which made the film even more touching and has spawned a major Italian chart hit.

    The only criticism that can be made? How come that Italian directors seem to have lost the ability to say something about the society in which they live? In the past, they were able to be sardonic about it, and to intertwine the two levels, social and personal. Now the only films they seem able to make are personal-only stories, and that's a pity.

    Altogether, a deeply recommended film.
  • What a rich and satisfying film this is! The complexity of lives interweaving, with a transformative impact is a rare experience in this medium.

    Life is full of chance meetings...often ignored...but in this film it is pivotal. A young couple, having serious relational problems, come upon a dazed old man on the street. His entrance in their lives, his own dramatic life and the wife's (Giovanna's) ultimate connection to him serves as a link to her profound choices...First, to risk a sexual encounter with the handsome neighbor she's watched through her facing windows and second, to recognize that her discontent has been with herself, more than her loving husband. The complexity of the old man's life...his survival of a concentration up a beloved lover to save others...his success as a famous pastry chef...all contribute in a tangential way to Giovanna's transformation. The final scene is enormously moving and meaningful.

    Don't miss this gem...if humanism, great performances and cinematic richness are important to you.
  • "Facing Windows" 2003 is a very thoughtful, gentle Italian film telling us how frustrating human conditions of the heart can be transformed by one another.

    Giovanna Mezzogiorno (also in "Don't Tell" aka Beast of the Heart) plays Giovanna the central 'heroine' - a young woman with plenty of mixed emotions, who is discontented with her (chicken factory accountant) job, mother to two children, wife to a husband who's night shift job schedule frustrates her, and most of time she shouts at him and wouldn't want to listen - yes, she's quite bitchy about herself, though finds brief solace when doing bit of occasional baking. Through the course of meeting the unexpected stranger that Massimo Girotti portrayed - Simone/Davide the old man at a lost, who seems to have amnesiac problem and was temporarily taken in by Giovanna's husband into their home against her wishes, yet her whole world starts to change. Writer-director Ferzan Ozpetek has a way of telling his stories, always full of humanity, foibles and virtues mixed together, turning out a thoughtful film never short of gentleness and the sharing of human kindness.

    There are side events, of course: the young man whom she now and then noticed across her kitchen window in the next building, the flashbacks and 'Déjà Vu' storyline that the old man Simone experiences, the delightful turn of events - those attractive delicious-looking display of cakes and cakes - what a baker's dream!

    Filmmaker Ozpetek, who was born in Turkey and lived in Italy, includes poetry in his films: he introduced Turkish poet Nâz1m Hikmet through his characters in "His Secret Life." Here, we get to hear Giovanna thinking aloud, talking to Davide: " I feel your gestures in mine, and I recognize you when you speak. Does everyone who leaves you - always leave part of themselves with you? Is this the secret of having memories?"

    The cast is just wonderful, of course, Mezzogiorno and Girotti were fascinating to watch. The music by Andrea Guerra complemented the cinematography by Gianfilippo Corticelli. If you'd like more of Ozpetek's work, try "Hamam: A Turkish Bath" 1998 (my first IMDb review posted on 10 January 1999) and "His Secret Life" aka The Ignorant Fairies, 2001.
  • One of the greatest Turkish directors ever, Ferzan Ozpetek has long proved himself as a director who doesn't only make good films but also makes them his own. With the elegant cast, the wonderful soundtrack and a cleverly knit story, La Finestra di Fronte is no exception to his brilliant movie-making.

    Beginning with the suffocatingly ordinary life of a young couple in Rome and developing as the couple host a stranger, an old man in their house and the lead actress' "improper" attraction to a stranger about whom she knows nothing; the story unfolds into the impossibility of two parallel love stories. The story of two young men during the Nazi suppression; and that of a man and a married woman; two relations both of which are considered highly immoral in their respective environments.

    Through the flashbacks, we are taken back to how love finds a way in a country under occupation and we see how the young woman sees her own love's fate in the old man's sad story.

    Worth seeing, and seeing again.
  • jotix10010 July 2004
    Having seen all of Ferzan Ozpetek's films, I looked forward seeing this new picture, which just started a commercial run locally. Without a doubt, this is even more complex than the ones before. Mr. Ozpetek is a director that shows great talent. He has worked in the screen play as well.

    This is a film that presents two stories that are completely different from one another. The beginning of the movie takes us back to 1943 Rome, at the height of the war. We witness what happens in the opening sequence without any knowledge of how will it play in the total outcome of the picture.

    The film then changes to present day Rome. We see Giovanna and Filippo, who are struggling to make ends meet. They meet one day a mysterious old man who is trying to give them money. They end up bringing him home since the local police can't do anything. This man, Simone, has the clue to the puzzle of the first part of the film, but that will come at the end.

    Giovanna's marriage to Filippo is in danger of failure. Giovanna suddenly discovers a life in the apartment across the street. Lorenzo, who lives alone, turns out has been spying on Giovanna as well. They get to meet, but common sense prevails and their possible relationship never amounts to anything.

    Giovanna Mezzogiorno is one of Italy's leading actresses. Not only is she attractive, but she can act, as well. Miss Mezzogiorno has one of the most expressive and beautiful eyes we have seen in a long time. Not only that, but she expresses so much by looking directly into the camera.

    Massimo Girotti, another great figure in the Italian movies is the mysterious Simone, who in reality is Davide, a master dessert chef who owned one of Rome's most prestigious pastry shop. Mr. Girotti's magnificent presence in the film makes the most with his pivotal role.

    The film is deeply satisfying. Another great film by Ferzan Ozpetek.
  • Several story lines are woven together in this movie. All are about making choice's. About having dreams and being pragmatic. And in most situations there is little time to think before one decides. The movie combines the big events of history with the small events of daily life. Perhaps the small daily things appear to have important consequences. And important events can change your life entirely. After all, the best option is to follow your dreams in a sensitive way. To have confidence in yourself, and in other people. It is filmed in a beautiful way and that close to reality, that you feel like being part of the it. Do you want to sense, feel and taste life ? .. this will impress you.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The movie tells us the story of a woman in her thirties, Giovanna, who has been married for nine years with Filippo, the father of their two children and who suddenly, probably due to her meeting with an older man, Massimo Girotti, reflects upon her life.

    Step by step Giovanna discovers events of David's life, reads one of his letters and starts to understand his thoughts, his sentiments, his behavior. Meanwhile she herself examines her life including the fact that she peers every day her neighbor Lorenzo who lives in the flat opposite. And she begins to talk to Davide, to explain that she desired a different job, possibly as a pastry chief, but had given up, had thought it was too hard.

    The director cleverly gives you the idea of Giovanna's great emotional confusion, but also of her discovery of a new way. As a matter of fact she eventually meets with Lorenzo and has a brief relationship with him, but also finds out that her family, the love for her husband and their children is more important. Her 'new life' will be in the professional field: she leaves her job and tries to work in a pastry.

    The movie is well narrated, the characters are convincing even if sometimes weak (I think to Lorenzo moreover). I found the plot a little confused as well as Giovanna's mind. Eventually I got the impression that too many mini plots all together weaken the main story which looses intensity.
  • 'La finestra di fronte' is a movie about discovering what you really want in life and finding the courage to follow this dream. The movie transmits a lot of mixed of emotions by means of two parallel stories, seeming similar at first, but which in the end prove to be each different and unique.

    Giovanna is a married woman in her 30s with two children and finding herself in a confusing time of her life, having to deal with frustrations and disappointments. Her marriage seems to be falling apart while she starts fantasising about the neighbour she sees every day through her window. At this time a new event comes to influence her life: meeting an old man having lost his memory whom she takes for a few days in her house.

    As the story unfolds, two forbidden love stories seem to come into shape. As Giovanna and Lorenzo, her neighbour, try to help the old man find his home, the passion they had created for each other while peering through each other's windows grows by each moment. At the same time, they start putting together the pieces to the puzzle of the old man's life and his forbidden uncompleted love for another man during the war.

    Giovanna is oscilating between her passion for the mysterious neighbour and the responsibilities for her family, but in the end the old man proves to be the one holding the key to her confusion: "Don't be content to merely survive. You must demand to live in a better world not just dream about it". By discovering herself in his personality, Giovanna manages to realise what her real frustrations were and what was truly missing from her life. Through the metaphor of the window the movie describes the difficult attempt to understand our own frustrations and desires which might not always be what we think they are.
  • Sadly, this type of film is all too rare.

    Without the relying on clichéd plot-devices, it achieves a striking level of dramatic intensity through character and relationship development. You care what happens to them as if you knew them personally and thats why it works.

    As soon as the credits began to roll, I immediately wanted to watch the film all over again. It left me with so many questions and thoughts, about my own life- a cinematic version of Coelho's Alchemist?

    For me, the recurring theme in the film, is choices- life choices- forks in the road- and the consequences our decisions yield.

    1. Davide stalling on the cobbled stoned streets- torn between his lover and his town. 2. Giovanna and Filippo on the bridge, arguing whether they should get involved with the strange old man. 3. Giovanna and the two men in her life. 4. Giovanna at window in Lorenzos house having a crisis of conscience. 5. Lorenzo taking up the work opportunity, instead of staying in Rome. 6. Giovanna changing careers. 7. Giovanna running down the steps at the end- mirroring the opening scene of the film, she becomes Davide's character in that she makes the ultimate sacrifice for her family. Although we are never told it directly, we realize afterwards that Davide has died- In the way that Giovanna talks about him; saying she misses him now he's gone. "Does everyone that leaves you, leave something of themselves behind". Giovanna says that she hears him in HER voice, and feels him in her gestures. The symmetry of this film is what makes it so beautiful and complete.

    The message? Follow your passion, follow your heart and you will have no regrets Something that really made me think was the line Davide said to Giovanna- " You have turned your passion into a hobby. You should never do that with a talent" So finally Giovanna finds her true love- her liberation from a life she no longer loves.

    Another element that adds to the realism is the dialogue- From the electrifying opening argument between the two lovers, to the smart quips of the brainy daughter, every character is given a chance to shine. Such a relief from the typical Hollywood crap we are forced to endure.

    Everything about this films, seems to linger long after you leave the cinema. The visual beauty, the score, Giovanna's beautiful eyes, the scenery- a true delight of a film that I love recommending to friends.
  • diand_14 July 2005
    Many people note the similarity to Rear Window. But except for some peeping there is no comparison to be drawn. This is more subdued Schindler's List as a back tale in another tale of self-discovery and fulfillment of personal interests and love. One evokes the other, as Giovanna learns bit by bit about the horror stories of razzias in Rome and she starts changing her life. By far the best and most emotional shot comes when Giovanna looks from her friend and neighbor Lorenzo's home to her own home and life. Effective use of doors and windows.

    But that's it. There are no deeper layers, complex film-making or any other cinematic efforts at work here. It moves somewhat predictable to its end. To set it up as a mystery was still an interesting choice.Massimo Girotti fits here perfectly. But it lacks some coherence, an almost trademark weakness of current Italian cinema.
  • This is the best film I've seen in perhaps six months or more. The direction by Turkish/Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek is consistently interesting, intriguing, beguiling and ultimately satisfying both emotionally and intellectually. The film is beautifully cut, and the acting, particularly by the fascinating Giovanna Mezzogiorno who plays the young mother of two whose name is also Giovanna, is first rate.

    The story begins in a bakery during World War II when Davide Veroli (Massimo Girotti) is a baker's apprentice. We see him among the great earthen ovens and the warm loaves as he makes what appears to be a sprint out of the cave-like establishment. But he is pounced upon by the baker. They wrestle, a knife is grabbed and apparently the baker falls and there is blood on Davide's hands as he runs out into the streets.

    Cut to modern times as Giovanna and her working-class husband, Filippo (Filippo Nigro) are crossing a bridge in the city. They meet an old man who seems lost and disoriented. He can't remember his name and he has no identification. Filippo takes pity on him and against his wife's wishes takes him home with them to their apartment. We know because of the man's age that the mystery of who he is has something to do with the men in the bakery scene from World War II.

    But his story is only tangential to the central story of the film which is about Giovanna's brief affair with the man next door, Lorenzo (Raoul Bova), whose apartment window faces hers. This is a love story, a bitter-sweet one--which all great love stories should be in some sense, since life itself is bittersweet. It is framed by, and contrasted with, another love story, that involving the older man from many years ago.

    The tension in the film revolves around the resolution of the affair between the married Giovanna and the handsome man who will soon be leaving the city. Will she abandon her marriage and her family for the excitement of a new man? Because the police can find out nothing about the old man, and because Giovanna's heart softens toward him, and because he is an elegant man of refinement, especially in the pastry arts--Giovanna's dream is to be a pastry chef--the man is allowed to stay for a while and the two are drawn together into friendship, the old man and the young woman.

    That's enough of the plot--the development, the denouement, and the resolution of which are beautifully realized in both an artistic and an emotional sense. Instead let me say that the feel of modern Italy with its racial tensions and its old world versus new world differences are nicely expressed as the past makes itself felt on the present. The dialogue is wonderfully expressive and gives us the sense of authenticity and the kind of realistic effect seen only in the very best films. This is the first film directed by Ozpetek that I have seen, but it won't be the last.

    But see this for Giovanna Mezzogiorno whose beautiful and expressive eyes and natural demeanor will hold you to the screen.

    (Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers warning !!!

    The ripples-in-a-mundane-life type of story is difficult to handle. When the ripples are over, it would often be as if nothing has ever happened. However, there may well be profound changes in the people involved. Either way, it's a challenge to sustain the interest of the audience throughout the story. Facing Windows does a superb job in sustaining our interest throughout.

    There are actually two threads of ripples to the simple life of Giovanna and Filippo. A very ordinary urban couple with two kids, these two found their marriage at a standstill. While a bit of a loser career-wise, Filippo is a compassionate family man. Giovanna is a sensible, if slightly too-practical woman. One would wonder what has gone wrong with their marriage. The fact of the matters is that nothing has really gone seriously wrong. It's just a most common modern urban phenomenon: stagnation. To sustain the audience's interest, the movie must earn empathy for Giovanna, the central character. This, ironically, is achieved through consistently slightly underplaying, foregoing the hysteric over-working of the emotional conflicts, and letting the simple dialogue, the silences and the nuances do the trick.

    The first ripple is denoted in the title, where facing windows provide an opportunity for Giovanna and handsome bachelor Lorenzo to silently notice, and then fantasize about each other. With just a hint of this the affair-that-is-to-be at the beginning, director Ozpetek takes his time to let the story and characters develop.

    The second of the ripples contribute to the development of the first, but is an entirely different story in its own right: the couple finding an old man who calls in the street with a complete lost in memory except for his name. Taking him temporarily into their house somehow provides an opportunity for Giovanna to encounter Lorenzo and develop their relationship.

    The movie skillfully links the two unrelated stories, shifting with dexterity between the familiar present-day domestic situations to the slightly suspenseful history surrounding the old man during the Nazi war years. The montages of the old man's world of memory and illusion are particularly well worth watching.

    There is a lot more to the movie than the above basic premises, such as the artful handling of the story back in 1943, such as the tasteful depiction of the `affair', such as the outrageously sinful display of the pasties chef's achievements…. just too many to mention. Everywhere you turn, you see director Ozpetek's sensitive, imaginative, honest touches, brought to life by an excellent cast surrounding the marvelous performance of Giovanna Messogiorno, who, incidentally, possesses one of the most beautifully faces on today's movie screen.

    Facing Window won a well deserved 5 awards in the Italian Academy Award, including best picture and performances for Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Giovanna) and Missimo Girotti (the old man).
  • As soon as I walked out of the movie theatre I said to myself I should write something about this film. But, who am I to write about it? I am not a journalist or somebody like that whose opinions are read all over. So, I started to talk about it to all my close friends. At least I could have influenced the people close to me. Then came IMdB to my mind. I sat down to write about it, but then it took me several minutes to hit the keyboard. No, it's not because there is nothing to write about the film. On the contrary, there is just so much to write, I can't figure out how to start.

    Let me start to say like this: I watched it last night, and all my day today I have the frames hoovering around my mind, notes of the soundtrack ringing my ears. I spent extra hours in the middle of Istanbul's heavy traffic just get its soundtrack CD, but, my efforts in reaching it resembled Davide's efforts for finding Simone....all sold out.

    As they say about some legendary directors, Ferzan Ozpetek's film has something to do with the fragile senses of life, not so much to bring tears into your eyes, but so much to tickle your fragile senses. He never chose to create a full blown drama, he never used cliche Hollywood tactics. In this film, it starts out to be a story of an ordinary middle class Italian family, having the typical life problems. Then, as the time passes, the film grows into itself and turns out to be one of the finest enjoyments of the silver screen. The scenes where Giovanna and Lorenzo chase Davide to the closed shop and then to the little caffee, the seemless changes of characters as the camera moves in circular motion, the dance of Davide with Giovanna, the cake making, all like a gentle hand caressing our fragile feelings. Excellent director of photography, magnificent music, larger than life actings of Mezzagiorno and Girotti were the reminicinces of last night's feast in my mind.

    I don't know why, but Ozpetek always have something to say about gay relations. This film could have been as magnificent or may be more in a straight relationship story. Ozpetek moves his camera very gently, use the most relevent music themes to trigger quite elegant feelings of our lives. After seeing this film, I've realised how much I was surrounded by the cliche Hollywood films, all following pretty much the same formula. For those who haven't seen it yet, I guarantee at least that you shall experience a quite a different and interesting enjoyment, may be the most different one.

    The film ended, and I stayed to the very end of the credits just to listen more of the great music. The last scene where he zoomed into Mezzagiorno's enchanting eyes was like a Sergio Leone closeup. Leone chose to zoom into his men with no name, Ozpetek chose to zoom into his real life characters...those characters that have the most elegant feelings in their eyes....and Giovanna can I describe that plain beauty? If I was to encounter somebody like her, I'd undertake all the penalties of life just to look a bit into her eyes. I wouldn't be able cook as good cakes as Davide, but do whatever it takes to make sure she stays there forever.

    Go and see this film...make yourself a favor...get your feelings sense some of the most elegant moments of your life
  • Ferzan Ozpetek chose a woman once again to put at the center of his film. Giovanna and Filippo in spite of being both young, are married since 8 years and have two children. Giovanna has abandoned her dreams and got lost in her dissatisfying life and has a secret habit of peeping his neighbour, Lorenzo. Then an old man who suffers amnesia enters her life and causes her to meet Lorenzo. The woman starts a travel in the past of this unknown man, and in herself... In first place, I loved the film because of the messages that were given. It pushes to appreciate your own life and fulfil your desires and to think about the value of a life, of past and its memory. The film is a succesful harmony of human relations and the story. The food, the city and multi-nationality are important elements. It was so beautiful when they were on the dinner table, an italian family, their turkish friend Emine, (as the actress Serra Yilmaz stated, the smile of the film) and his black husband and their children. I recommend this film to everyone, especially to who needs to be reminded about some values of the life.
  • asinnn29 December 2003
    Actually I did not admire Özpetek's works this much,until I've watched this film. What makes this film so unique and so hard to tell is , its simple narrative with its magnificent story telling. I wanted to talk about it for hours and hours but something happens to you after seeing this film that you can not find the word to tell.. Because it is so pure and I believe ý can not find words this pure,to tell the impression it left on me..The music,camera work all sequences are like poem which can be understood easily, not complicated, not exaggerated..At this point the strong "art" appears to me.. 2 hours that you spend in the theatre makes you feel different,makes you hard to define and it lasts with the images, the music you hear and sing your self not to forget, for hours and hours.. For me this is a kind of film which can not be forgotten easily.. Briefly go an see this film and be sure you will "feel" it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Facing window is the mirror of your life.As through you will see what you chose,what you choose.And after all you see will you choose the right thing?

    This movie is about choices,regrets and breaking the circle.An old man comes into the life of a young woman who has problems with her husband and job.In this point she is the one trapped in the circle.As she learns the choice old man did in the past,she starts to think about the choices she's doing.Her relationship with the old man is kinda ironic.Because he made the choice between his gay lover and town people.Now she's about the take a decision;her husband or the guy from the facing window,the one that lives the life she wants.

    'Facing Window' has a lot of elements;loving as a gay,wasting the life,being an inadequate husband...We're used to see gay relationships in the early works of Ozpetek (Maybe because he's a gay,too!).But in this one the reflection is not as strong as the other ones.And it feels like there is a gap between these elements.They can't get a position that they work as a whole structure.

    But the shooting technique of Ozpetek comes all over these.He has a rhytm.This puts a soul into the movie.He uses the music and the cinematography very well.He is so successful about creating the atmosphere.All movie goes on like a song with wonderful lyrics and tune.

    It's not hard for us to get into the movie.Because the story is not unusual.Everyone of us lives situations;left to make a choice and live with the regret,there to get the second chance and let it go.So I think one of the things that makes these movie so dramatic in the eye of the audience,it's a window to your life.The tears you cry,deep inside they're the tears for your mistakes.

    Serra Yilmaz is so successful.She took a lot of awards for the performance in this role.Giovanna Mezzogiorno;her eyes just for a couple of seconds are worth a thousand words.You can tell all the story of her life just by looking through her eyes.

    And the cream-cakes...This movie is not suggested to the ones in the diet.They are an important symbol in the movie.First,they are the major thing building the connection between Giovanna and Davide.And they're one of the things that makes this movie so poetic,flying in the air.

    Early works of Ozpetek are better.But on of the things I like in this movie is the distance between the classic European story-telling technique.I never be a whole European cinema fan and the attitude of the movie makes me closer to it.So here I say;'God,let every worse movie be like this'.
  • It's a well filmed, interesting, mysterious romance, but there were moments when the sentiment felt slapped on with a trowel.

    She's in an unhappy marriage. Her husband is an irresponsible schmuck. They meet a befuddled, lost old man on the street and the husband insists on taking him home. The woman starts to get involved with the man across the street, whose windows face her apartment. The old man's situation seems to encourage the affair. All very interesting.

    And it plays out well. It's moving, it's compelling, it made me laugh out loud, it made me feel sympathy pangs for the characters.

    But something about it felt weak, easy, and sort of bland. I found myself paying attention to the subtitles, trying to pick out individual Italian words, wondering if I could use foreign films to learn foreign languages. In other words, there were times when I was bored.

    A led to B led to C, and sometimes the dot to dot was so obvious I wanted them to cut to the end of the alphabet, or shake things up a bit. Things do get resolved in the film -- there is "growth" -- but it sort of feels like we only grew just a little bit.

    It's worth seeing. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. It's a competent, romantic film that left me vaguely unsatisfied.
  • toosweet4u7917 July 2005
    Have you ever wondered what your life would look like to a stranger looking in? If you were able to magically remove yourself and look at your "everyday", would there be insight to be had? Many of us allow life to pass us by. We do not demand enough, we do not strive enough, we do not mold what we have to the best of what it could be. This film compels you to question yourself, to appreciate more and not take things for granted, because our todays soon become our tomorrows and we do not want to be left with any regrets and what ifs.

    The film is very real. I felt engaged, I felt involved, and at the end, I felt serene. This is the calibre of film that film-goers live for.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have seen 3 of the 4 Ferzan Ozpetek films available in the USA, and I hope too see "Harem Suare" very soon. Between "His Secret Life/The Ignorant Fairies" and "Hamam/Steam," I think this is his most complete and well-directed film. Ozpetek is a unique international phenom because he is a Turkish director in Italy and an open homosexual. There is only one other Turkish director of the later distinction, Kutlug Ataman (the German film Lola and Billithekid). But, those unique characteristics are really secondary because Ozpetek is above everything else, a solid director. I don't think his other films quite achieved their full objectives, but this one does. For starters, the film is well cast. Giovanni Mezzogiorno, one of the world's sexiest actresses ( as in whoa! baby), has shined in films like "The Last Kiss" and she does here too. Then, there is Massimo Girotti of "Last Tango in Paris" fame in his very last film giving a moving performance as a homosexual Holoaust survivor. Lastly, Turkish actress Serra Yilmaz, who has made films in some 3 or 4 countries with the likes of the late legendary Turkish comic actor Kemal Sunal (1944-2000), is quite splendid in a supporting role here as the friend who gives heart-felt, but perhaps unwise advice to Mezzogiorno. The film shows the influences of Hitchcock (Rear Window- of course), Visconti, and even a hint of the Turkish melodrama but it is its own unique moving film. There are plenty of surprises along the way. Ozpetek has been known as the Turkish Almodovar, for his provacativeness, but this film will prove he is not a mere novelty but rather a solid up and coming director on the world stage.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I recently saw Facing Windows (La Finestra di Fronte), which I was looking forward to see because I read very good reviews about it and I liked the trailer. Unfortunately I was disappointed. It is frustrating to watch a movie that has excellent parts, but is poorly executed. There are ambitious movies that fall short but accomplish enough to be highly respected; Facing Window comes close but it mainly falls on its face. The film is about a couple that comes across a disorientated man who can't remember details about himself. The husband brings him home, but Giovanna his wife, benefits from this intrusion. There is also a handsome mysterious man who Giovanna observes from her window. Essentially this film is about the choices people make in life and love, and how they might affect the person.

    The actors were impressive. Giovanna could have conveyed all the facets and developments in her character without saying a word. Her eyes are powerful and expressive. They capture the complexity of her feelings. The older man, Simone/ Davide Veroli, was also a solid character. But I mainly found the background figures, Eminé and Filippo, that served more as furniture pieces and foils, intriguing. They felt real, and it was easier to connect with them, which is problematic when one of the central part of the story is the supposed attraction and desire between Giovanna and Lorenzo.

    Possible Spoiler ahead ****

    This is not a big spoiler considering the attraction between Lorenzo and Giovanna is discussed in just about every review, but I believe the weight given to 'romance' between them was over played, and it was out of context of the arch of the story. There was no chemistry between Lorenzo and Giovanna. Lorenzo is an excellent figure to be desired from a far. He is handsome man, and the ritual of observing him from a distance gives his character a mystique and intrigue which is lost once he and Giovanna begin communicating in person. I stress the face to face interaction because Lorenzo's place in the film could have remained powerful if at some point the two became aware that they are observing each other but keep their distance.

    Lorenzo seems static and one dimensional in contrast to the other character. He does not generate any interest on to himself. In the end I felt he was a mental digression for Giovanna and not a real option. He was merely a curiosity and the sense of another possibility. I wish Ozpetek had played it in that respect and kept Lorenzo at bay. He could have served as a template to investigate and understand Filippo and Giovanna as individuals and their marriage. I don't think anyone who watched this film would disagree that they had the most chemistry in the film.

    A major plot point is the past life of Simone and Davide. It is deceptively framed in the film, which undermines its beauty and potential as a story. It could have been its own movie, but since it is a part of Giovanna life I really wonder why Ozpetek and Romoli didn't take a piece from that story. Simone and Davide had a love that existed in their letters, eyes and gestures. From what the film indicates they never had a physical relationship, which makes it even more powerful, so it is unclear how the lust (which is consummated) between Giovanna and Lorenzo can be (even loosely) placed in the same plane with Simone and Davide. Simone and Davide's past, Giovanna's family and the mysterious stranger in the widow are brilliant stories to explore, but together they undermine each other. There was too much going on, and the seams between them are either missing or unraveling

    End of Spoilers ****

    Facing Window has rich ingredients that could possibly craft an excellent film or many excellent films. Most of the characters are dynamic.

    They could spawn their own tales, especially Eminé and Filipo who are instigators to the majority of the plot that unfolds. When the credits were rolling my one thought was the screen play could have been so much tighter. That would have made this a brilliant film. Maybe it fell apart in editing room. Everything doesn't have to fit perfectly together, but there should be a sense of cohesion even if it is cohesion in the lack of symmetry between the stores. Although I have so far heavily criticized some of the choices in the movie I have to praise the cinematography. It is a very beautiful film to watch. I wouldn't say that is worth the cost of ticket, but it is a redeeming quality, and score was beautiful although sometimes too heavy. Good effort, but overrated. 6/10
  • Ten out of ten is inadequate for this film; twenty out of ten would be more appropriate. This is one of the most rewarding and moving films to be made for years. Everything about the film shows genius at work, the directing, the writing, the acting, all of the highest possible quality. Somebody should invent 'international Oscars' to award to it. The story is double-stranded, complex, interweaving, compelling, intriguing, everything one wants really. The film is dedicated to Massimo Girotti, who died before its release and gave one of its finest performances as the enigmatic old man, 'Simone', around whom both intertwining stories revolve. One does not wish to betray the plot surprises and revelations by explaining too much. The whole film is based upon whether a man takes a left turn or a right turn, and the tragic consequences either way. One story takes place in 1943, and the other in the current day, but not everyone still alive is new to the story, as the viewer discovers, as layer after layer of revelation occurs. The film is so deeply pathetic, tragic, emotional, and at the same time life-affirming that all the emotions are let loose at once. And all those pastries! What a feast!
  • I believe that in this universe, all possible combination of events already exist, just waiting to be perceived by an appropriately 'tuned' entity like a brain. In this view, time itself does not exist, but is just an illusion created by the limited perceptive 'bandwidth' of the tuner.

    So far, only people in extreme mental conditions like trance, epilepsy, yogic gurus, hallucinogenics and the near-dead are speculated to experience this 'timelessness' of the true reality. It was impossible for a 'normal' person on an ordinary day to experience this.

    Or so I thought, until I saw this movie. Cinematic ally, the director and cinematographer has pulled off a miracle in the way he has conveyed this profound concept of the timeless universe of interlocking patterns of events!

    In particular, the scene where the old man Simone/davide asks Giovanna for a dance, and as the camera pans across the window frame, the viewer is transported back and forth in time almost as in a trance, with the incredible music adding to this experience. It dissolved all character and behavioral boundaries of past, present, future, mater/student, father/daughter, lover/lover... This scene brought torrents of tears to my eyes, and I must've rewound and replayed it 30 times in one sitting...

    Incredible movie.

    I disagree with the characterizing of this movie as 'creamy romance' It is in fact a very hard edged, cerebral movie, filled with great illustrations of some of the mysteries of scientific concepts like time, space, causality etc
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