Il Postino: The Postman

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
Il Postino: The Postman Movie Poster Image
Romance, gorgeous words, and the beauty of Italy.
  • PG
  • 1995
  • 108 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Violence

Brief glimpses of beatings at a political rally.

Sex

Romantic seduction.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie's subtitles and adult themes, although never offensive, push it away from what's comfortable for preteens.

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What's the story?

In this fictional account of the Chilean poet's exile in Italy, Pablo Neruda helps a simple man find new purpose and joy through the beauty and inspiration of poetry. The dialogue is in Italian, with subtitles. Life in a quaint fishing community takes on new meaning for Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi) when he accepts a job as a postman for a single address, that of the famous Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret). Seeking refuge from an arrest warrant on this small Italian island, the exiled Chilean poet is inundated with mail, so the two see each other often. The poet's words so enflame Mario's heart that he falls in love with the beautiful Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta). To win her over, Mario borrows a few of the Maestro's lines to great success. Even after the warrant is lifted and Neruda returns to his homeland, Mario carries with him -- through the love for his wife and son and his own impassioned acts -- the values their friendship has stamped on him.

Is it any good?

IL POSTINO (The Postman) is one of those rare and passionate movies that make you want to rush out to a bookstore and lose yourself in endless shelves of printed pages. It so eloquently captures the spirit of the creative mind that seeing it might even inspire teenagers with an aversion to poetry to give it another try.

The Nobel Prize-winning poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda wrote about the beauty of everyday life, and gave voice to those with no outlet for their own joys and sorrows. Played wonderfully by Philippe Noiret, he exudes a warmth and a passion that far exceed his girth. The movie's tender humor comes mostly in his exchanges with the postman and aspiring communist Mario. The poet always has concrete answers to his curious friend's questions, even sticklers like "How do you become a poet?" And, there's a hint of Cyrano de Bergerac to this story, in that Mario relies on his friend's words to seduce his love until he gains confidence in his own voice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about historical fiction. Are movies a good source of accurate information? Why do film writers and directors make changes in real stories, people, and events? Parents may also want to use this movie as an opportunity to expose their teens to some of their favorite poetry.

Movie details

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