It's not exactly a "pick-me-upper," but "The Macaluso Sisters" is one of the most gripping dramas of the year.
Italian films don't often make it over state-side unless they are upper-echelon great. That's why "The Macaluso Sisters" is in theaters (The Maple Theater) this weekend, as it fits that category.
It's directed by Emma Dante, and is based on her own stage play. It follows a group of sisters from the innocence of childhood through the course of their tumultuous and tragic lives. Played by a different set of actresses through the years, the sisters' journey begins spirited: They all live in a small, poor flat together, their parents having died. The girls have inherited the family business, where they rent out pigeons (sometimes painted festive colors) for parties and weddings, and then the birds fly right back. It's just another normal day of bickering and laughter among siblings, until something horrific happens on a visit to a local beach.
That event sticks with the sisters and in many ways defines the remainder of their lives. Dante proves to be a focused yet patient director, who lets many of her shots breathe, and who doesn't spoon-feed the story to her audience. Her approach creates a haunting element, and the scope of the story is expanded to the point where, unlike many stage-to-screen adaptations, it feels free from the confinement.
"The Macaluso Sisters" is not an easy film but it's a good one...it shows you the effects of grief and how some wounds not only don't heal, but they fester.
Run Time: 1 hour 29 minutes.
Starring: Alissa Maria Orlando, Susanna Piraino, Anita Pomario, Eleonora De Luca, Donatella Finocchiaro, Viola Pusateri.
Based on the play by Emma Dante.
Written by Giorgio Vasta & Elena Stancanelli.
Directed by Emma Dante ("A Stree in Palermo").
"The Macaluso Sisters" is opening exclusively at The Maple Theater on Friday, August 13th, 2021.
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