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2014年9月20日 星期六

Allaciate le cincture (Fasten Your Seatbelt) (愛情回帶)

It was raining heavily. Pedestrians are taking cover under a bus stop shelter. As the minutes passed, more and more people tried to squeeze in. The space was getting more and more cramped. An old lady was complaining that she was being bumped by a colored woman. She was using racist language. Another young woman who witnessed this felt that despite the minor bumping in the urgency of the rush, should be tolerated and urged the old lady to restrain her language. Another young man who was standing beside the old lady probably thinking that the young woman ought not to speak to the old woman the way she did, rudely told her to stop harassing the old lady. She was offended. The young man approached her to beat her up but was restrained by the others. The rain stopped. The young man left in a rage. That's how the 10th film by Turkish director Ferzan Özpetek's " Allaciate le cinctur"e (Fasten Your Seatbelt) (愛情回帶) started. According to internet sources,  Özpetek has directed many award-winning films, including His Secret Life (2001), Facing Windows (2003), Saturn in Opposition (2007), starting with his debut "Steam: The Turkish Bath (1997).

In this latest feature, he was trying to tell the story an impossible love in a romantic  foursome: Elena (Kasia Smutniak), who at the start of the film was a restaurant waitress with very clear ideas about who she was and what she was doing, was then engaged to Giorgio (Francesco Scianna); her best friend  and co-worker Silvia (Carolina rescentini) who unbeknown to Elena, was then going out with Antonio (Francesco Arca), the angry young man with whom she had an altercation at the covered bus stand during the opening scene. Elena was articulate, but Antonio was a dyslexic motor mechanic and owner of a garage whose only love, apart from women, is the motorbike which he would ride out into the countryside if he wanted to clear his head whenever he had any problems he could not handle. As the film developed, Elena found herself drawn almost against her will toward Antonio. There was a kind of mute primitiveness in Antonio which she found irresistible. She was advised by her mother and her aunt at home that she could not continue to do what she was doing behind the back of her best friend but she found it impossible to stop and finally decided to tell Elena. But whilst she was trying to make sure that Elena and herself would remain friends after what she was about to tell her her relation with Silvia's boyfriend, Elena broke down in tears and confessed to her that she was dating Giorgio behind Elena's back! It was a happy ending: they switched partners and Elena and Giorgio started a common project : a disco-bar for young people at a site close to a university, which turned out to be a much bigger success than they anticipated.

13 years went by. Another crisis developed. Elena,now married with two kids, was found with breast cancer. As was her style, she faced it calmly and valiantly. But it was obvious that she was not getting any better: the chemo-therapy was making her lose her hair and she collapsed at the restaurant after a few sessions and had to be hospitalized, being treated by Helen, one of her former customers who had to borrow the use of her restaurant's table to cram for her medical examination because her roommate was making too much noise with her lover all through the night. However, the gloom at the second half of the film was dispelled slightly by some comic relief: the antics of her aunt and her hairless and old roommate Egre (Paola Minaccioni), who advised her to do whatever it was that she felt inclined to, including taking new lovers, something which she herself had every intention to carry out and hinted that she could use a little help from Elena with regard to one of her visitors viz. Antonio, whom she thought was one of Elena's homophobic friend, mistaking Gorgio, despite what she claimed was her unerringly accurate mental "radar",  to be Elena's husband.

It was a film about love and lovingly crafted by Özpetek with a suitable mixture of the poesy of animal passion  and the little ironies and the occasional slapsticks of life. Özpetek bring out the elemental nature of Elena's attraction to Antonio by various images: the noise of Antonio's motorcyle, the heavy earth trembling bass in the music one hears at the start of the film, the all pictures and patterns tattooed back of Antonio during his love-making filling almost the entirety of the screen, matched with the smaller tattoos on Elena's body which combines words with pictures. I love in particular two scenes: the scene where Antonio took Elena to a quiet beach on his motorbike, nearbly had a collision with an oncoming car by a careless driver on the narrow dirt track to the beach , watched the waves, took a dip and then made love and the scene where towards the end of the film, Antonio took Elena to the same beach again before driving her back to the hospital after Elena left without permission to have a look at how everything was at her home after her hospitalisation and found to her surprise, how everything was spik and span as previously, it was always she who did all the housework and Antonio never helped. But there, she had a fearful vision of Antonio's wedding with Silvia, her two children acting as flower girls and her mother and aunt all joining in. Another scene I love is the one where on a visit to the hospital, Elena's husband, never one to talk much, made love to Elena at the hospital bed in the only way he knew how, mutely showing his affection for her, whilst the old lady Egre on the next bed pretended to be asleep and gave Elena a cheeky wink the following morning. Elena smiled an appreciative smile. For her role in this film, Kasia Smutniak, she won the best actress award by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists 2014 and Paola Minaccioni won the award for the best supporting actress for the way she brought to life a dying cancer patient who somehow always manages to have a twinkle in her eyes. .

Why that film title? This is how in an interview, Ferzan Ozpetek explains the title of the film: "The title refers to the fact that sometimes in life, sooner or later, everything happens turbulently, exactly like in an airplane: a big moment touches you and you need to fasten your seatbelt. Here, I tell the story of a couple facing a number of difficult challenges over the course of thirteen years. But the film speaks especially of time, friendship and illness through the lenses of a great love story. Now that I am 55, I know that what remains strongly with me is love, friendship and solidarity between people." I am happy he made this film.