A lush and melodramatic Italian confection of forbidden desire, buried secrets and pastry cooking, Facing Window blends romance, mystery and fantasy to beguiling, if slightly bewildering, effect. Turkish-born helmer Ferzan Ozpetek - best known for gay-themed indies Hamam: The Turkish Bath and Le Fate Ignoranti - makes a concerted bid for the mainstream with a sentimental fable that is virtually crying out for a Hollywood remake. Some, however, may still find it an acquired taste, despite a good-looking cast and handsome production values.
Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) is a young mother of two beaten down by her increasingly fractured marriage to hapless underachiever Filippo (Filippo Nigro) and her soul-sapping job as a poultry inspector. The last thing she needs is an amnesiac pensioner in her house, but that's what she gets when her husband invites Simone (Massimo Girotti) to stay after finding him wandering the streets of Rome.
"MIXING VOYEURISM AND HOMOEROTICISM"
Gradually, though, Giovanna warms to the old man, especially when she discovers he shares her interest in the culinary arts. What's more, a tragic love in Simone's past seems to mirror her infatuation with Lorenzo (Raoul Bova), the dashing bachelor who lives opposite. Slowly, as the neighbours join forces to uncover the confused geriatric's true identity, Giovanna realises her life is at an emotional crossroads.
Mixing voyeurism and homoeroticism with flashbacks to WWII Italy, Ozpetek could be accused of cooking too rich a dish from his sundry ingredients. There's also something faintly foolish about Giovanna's passion for pudding and yearning to become a pastry chef. But the widescreen visuals and Andrea Guerra's sweeping score bring a sheen of class to the strained narrative, while Mezzogiorno's scenes with Bova (soon to be seen in Alien Vs. Predator) positively crackle with sexual energy.
In Italian with English subtitles.