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:: Il Cuore Altrove (A Heart Elsewhere)

A Heart Elsewhere tells the simple story of Nello, a 35 year old virgin sent from Rome to Bologna to find himself a wife and provide an heir to go into the family business. He doesn’t have much luck until by chance he meets a blind girl in a convent, Angela. She is beautiful and full of life and he knows that the only reason she is interested in him is because of her recently acquired disability. He falls instantly in love despite opposition from all fronts.

There is not enough love to make A Heart Elsewhere a love story. Nor is it a tragedy, a sex comedy, an artistic representation of a lonely man or a portrait of an Italian community. It is a little of these things, and yet none of them with any conviction. Neri Marcore, who plays Nello with soft-spoken naivete, behaves with a truly infuriating lack of self-respect. Vanessa Incontrada, a model who plays Angela, the love of his life, treats him terribly and he is better off without her, so there’s not much reason for the audience to want their relationship to continue. Angela is painted as the quintessential woman, ridiculously vain, fickle and manipulative. She is to be loved only for her beauty and when it is marred by blindness then no one but the ugly, outcast men could want her.

The film is set in the 1920’s, with only a passing mention of the politics of the time, a brief discussion on whether women should be allowed to vote. There is a large amount of time spent discussing Latin poets that adds little to the story though to make up for it, there is a lot of lovely scenery and Italian streetscapes to interest the eye when it wanders from the puppy dog eyed looks of Nello.

A Heart Elsewhere was in competition at Cannes and won the Italian Academy Award for director Pupi Avati, who also wrote the screenplay. Avati has previously made the films A School Outing and The Best Man.