Director: Matteo Garrone

Starring: Federico Ielapi, Roberto Benigni, Marine Vacth

Year: 2019

We all know the story of Pinocchio because of Disney, if not because of the original story, which was written in Italy in 1883.  Like other Grimm-style fairy tales, the original Pinocchio is very different from the Disney version, very dark and disturbing and even a little hard to follow, since it’s so full of allusions and commentaries on society at the time it was written.  This more-authentic, Italian version is much more “realistic” and more in keeping with the book, which will weird out a lot of audiences.  It’s a combination of Amelie, Tale of Tales, and …Cats? …with an unusual but intriguing style that just might catch your applause.

The poor woodcarver Geppetto has absolutely nothing, not even a crust of bread to eat, and he doesn’t know where his next meal will come from.  When a puppet show rolls into town, he begs a block of wood from a friend, with a thought to carving a wonderful marionette for the show, the best puppet the world has ever seen.  What he creates, however, is more than he bargained for, as the little wooden boy begins to speak.  Naming his son Pinocchio, Geppetto vows to be a dutiful father and sends his boy to school.  But Pinocchio is new to this world, easily tricked and easily turned from the narrow path.  He will have to learn fast, lose his selfishness, and commit to following the rules, if he ever wants to become a true human and a real boy.

I did not know that the director of this film was also the director of Tale of Tales when I made the comparison in my mind for the first time, though it seems obvious now.  It’s just a bizarre tale, a classic with dark twists, and a little humor thrown in to offset the despair.  And I know Amelie is French, this is Italian, but that European daring is on full display here, complete with dreams and fairies and animals and imaginings, until you lose yourself completely within this world.  Benigni is a master, all the characters are lushly painted, the Cat & Fox were my favorites, the music was excellent, the artistry wonderful, and the entire film feels like a blur of feeling and experience, in a good way.  This may not be what you are used to, but I think it has the potential to successfully trap a lot of people who didn’t see its quality coming.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils