There is no denying that I absolutely love Italian cinema, there is just something so beautiful and honest about it. I grew up with the Italian culture being a huge part of my life, as my parents were both born in Italy. I haven’t been back to the motherland for over 12 years, but when I was there I loved every second of it. Martino’s Summer actually brought me back to my last holiday there. The film affected me in such a way because it reminded me of my time there; it was something unexpected and thought provoking. In short I loved this film, for both the effect it had on me as well as the fact that it is a damn fine film.
Martino’s summer takes place in the summer of 1980, a memorable year in Italy for all the wrong reasons. A DC9 aircraft was shot down over Ustica, and a Bologna train station was the victim of a terrorist attack killing a large number of people. These events play as the backdrop to the film, as a young teenager Martino (Luigi Ciardo) befriends his brother’s girlfriend Silvia (Matilde Maggio) and forms an unlikely bond with an American Captain Jeff Clark (Treat Williams). Martino really is the picture of a typical teenager, troubles at home (dealing with his mothers passing and his fathers anger), a brother who doesn’t treat me right, finding love and just looking to find a place in the world.
As I mentioned earlier, this film reminded me a lot about my last trip to Italy. Like in this film I was a teenager, around 14 years old and discovering who I was, making new friends, finding love and basically trying to find my place in the world. I remember what it was like, and this film captures those things so perfectly, it was difficult to watch certain scenes without tearing up. The film is truthful in its emotions, as are the characters. They are wonderfully portrayed by its young cast, with Luigi Ciardo holding the film firmly on his shoulders. His presence is one that easily brings the audience in; he’s someone we can all relate to. Matilde Maggio is a stunning young lady, and she’s equally as good, she’s one of those girls who isn’t like everyone else. She’s unique and nice to Martino, she genuinely cares about him, and it was so well portrayed even from the smallest of gestures. Treat Williams was fantastic as the Captain who takes Martino under his wing, and teaches him how to surf. The pair shares a father/son type of bond that was wonderfully captured and realised.
The film has so many layers and underlying motivations, it is intricate but easy to follow and understand. It is an emotional film, especially when you consider the tragedies that play as the backdrop. It reminds us of the difficulties of being a teenager, but also that of being an adult. Life can be beautiful and tragic at the same time, as this film is. Giorgio Fabbri’s script is simply stunning, and it isn’t difficult to see why it is an award winner. Massimo Natale’s direction is superb as well; he showed such a strong understanding of the script and for the characters. It is a real treat to find a film that fully captures and understands what it was/is like to be a teenager, something that European filmmakers in general seem to understand. Martino’s Summer is a wonderful film from start to finish, seek this out!
Italian Trailer for L’Estate Di Martino