I have seen this movie in Cinema One few years back and I instantly became fanatic of Monica Bellucci (who played the title role). This is one of the few films which immediately hooks viewers from scene one and takes them breatheless all the way through. I will always remember and love this movie. Well, here’s the plot.
The film is set in Sicily in 1940 during World War II just as Italy enters the war. Malena's husband, Nino Scordia, leaves to serve in the military. She learns that her husband has been killed. Malena tries to cope with her loss, as the town she has moved to tries to deal with this beautiful woman who gets the attention of all the local men, including the 12-year-old Renato. However, in spite of the gossip, she continues to be faithful to her husband. Renato becomes obsessed with Malena and starts fantasizing about her.
Malena is shunned by the townspeople who begin to believe the worst about her, simply because of her beauty. In the meanwhile, the war worsens. The village is bombed and Malena's father is killed.
She eventually has no money. Malena's poverty finally forces her to become a prostitute. When the German army comes to town, Malena gives herself to Germans as well. Renato sees her in the company of two German officers and faints.
His mother and the older ladies think that he has been possessed and take him to church for an exorcism. His father however takes him to a brothel; Renato has sex with one of the prostitutes while fantasizing that she is Malena.
When the war ends, the women gather and publicly beat and humiliate Malena, who leaves for Messina. A few days later, Nino Scordia returns, to the shock of all the residents. He finds his house occupied by people displaced by the war. Renato tells him through an anonymous letter about Malena's whereabouts.
Nino goes to Messina to find her. A year later, they return. The villagers, especially the women, astonished at her courage, begin to talk to "Signora Scordia" with respect.
In the last scene near the beach, Renato helps her pick up some oranges that had dropped from her shopping bag. Afterwards he wishes her "Buona fortuna, Signora Malena" (good luck, Mrs. Malena) and rides off on his bicycle. As this final scene fades out, an adult Renato's voice-over reflects and says, "Of all the girls who asked me to remember them, the only one I remembered is the one who did not ask." The audience is left not knowing if Malena ever realizes Renato's feelings for her.
“Malena” is part romantic and part coming-of-age film. It is about a boy’s blossoming to manhood and a woman’s struggle against a judgmental society. The movie was created with excellent cinematography and beautiful scoring, making it gather several nominations in different awards including the Academy (Oscar) and Golden Globe.
The movie is mainly drama with touches of humor. The first part has fast pace which eventually slackened towards the end, yet still able to draw the audience. It is very relatable (for all boys particularly). It is amazing how the boy secretly became the lover, hero, and friend for Malena. It is also very sad to realize how human can be so bias, cruel, and destructive. I love the scene near the end when Malena had finally redeemed her dignity and society spoke well of her again.
The movie is very lovable. However, I find some scenes to be quite disturbing like the boy’s overflowing fantasies for Malena. Philippine culture is not really open for such theme in movies. Moreover, there are not too many good reviews for the movie due to its lack of depth and subtlety. I suppose this is a movie that pleases the general crowd but not the critics. Whatever, Malena has become an icon of beauty for me and the movie will never be etched in my mind.