Burning Hearts – Italian Film Festival

The Italian Film Festival is in its 23rd year after its founding at the turn of the millennium in 2000.  Since then, the festival has grown in popularity to become the most significant public celebration of Italian cinema outside Italy.

A feature of this year’s festival is a special presentation of New Italian Cinema’s – Burning Hearts – which takes place in the picturesque region of Puglia. This gripping crime tale reignited an age-old feud between two rival families as a forbidden love story unfolds. Burning Hearts is directed by Pippo Mezzapesa and was the Best Cinematography winner at the 2023 Nastro d’Argento Awards.

Based on a non-fiction book by Carlo Bonini and Giuliano Foschino, Burning Hearts is inspired by the true story of Rosa Di Flore. Mafia rival clans, the Malatesta and the Camporeale, have a history of bloody feuds. After a fragile truce, Andrea, Michele Malatesta’s son, falls in love with Marilena, the wife of fugitive Santo Camporeale. The affair becomes public, leading to a murder that will renew war between the rival clans. Andrea, driven by vengeance, returns home determined to eliminate the Camporeales.

Singer Elodie makes her acting debut in Burning Hearts as one-half of the forbidden lovers, Marilena Camporeale. As an acting debut, Elodie gave us a very solid performance. Francesco Patane played Andrea Malatesta and gave us a convincing performance of a loving son turned cold-blooded killer set on vengeance. Another stand-out performance was that of Lidia Vitale, who played matriarch of the Malatesta clan, Teresa.

The style choice from Pippo Mezzapesa was apparent throughout the film and reminiscent of the Film noir style. The black and white tones add to the story’s crime element and make action scenes more intense. This choice adds depth to the characters’ expressions. However, strangely, there were a few instances during the movie when the sound or music seemed out of sync with the story being told.

Andrea Malatesta’s character arc in the film serves as a cautionary tale about the corrupting influence of power and the potential consequences it can bring. I did not read the book before watching this film, so I cannot comment on any differences between the book and the film. If you are a fan of crime dramas or Italian cinema, then this is one to watch at the 2023 Italian Film Festival.

The Italian Film Festival runs from the 19th Sep to the 25 Oct, although check the dates for regional variations. Check out the movie session times in your local area on the Italian Film Festival website. Ciao!

This review also appears on It’s On The House.