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L’Avventura: John Turturro’s “Passione”

L’Avventura: John Turturro's "Passione"

When one thinks of John Turturro’s films as a writer-director, the distinctive aspect that might spring to mind is not visual but sonic, a screen that vibrates less with strong images than with powerful aural groupings and collisions. Irrepressible, choleric, always theatricalizing themselves, the characters of Mac and Illuminata seem forever on the verge of breaking into tragicomic arias, a feeling made audaciously literal in the Demy-via-Cassavetes singalong bouts of his 2005 film Romance & Cigarettes. Lyricism and truculence run side by side in these studies of la voix humaine, and never more so than in Romance’s tuneful-dissonant set pieces, which flirt with experimentalism as the heightened emotions of blue-collar palookas and yentas find ungainly yet impassioned expression in tunes by Engelbert Humperdinck and Janis Joplin. Passione, Turturro’s fourth directorial effort and first documentary, doesn’t have the stylistic daring of that previous film (or of Pedro Costa’s Ne change rien or Miguel Gomes’s Our Beloved Month of August, last year’s two great musicals), yet its portrait of a city trembling with voices past and present feels every bit as much of a labor of love. Read Fernando F. Croce’s review of Passione.

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