A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ode to Passion is a romantic drama told in song and verse. The movie follows a traditional love story track: "boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy does or does not get girl back." What's different is the shape and style. Eighteen original songs, composed by writer-director Jack Danini, are performed, primarily by the two lovers. All of the characters speak in rhyme. While there's no overt sexual activity, viewers will see passionate kissing, foreplay, couples waking up in bed together, sexual dancing, and conversations about infidelity and promiscuity. Language includes: "f--k," "s--t," "crap," "hell," "goddamn," and some insults ("dork," "whore"). Substance abuse -- both drugs and alcohol -- is a central element of the plot. Characters ingest cocaine and drink to excess. The film, while intensely starry-eyed, is a serious one. It includes faith-based content and some very sad moments.
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What's the story?
In ODE TO PASSION it's love at first sight when Michael Fiorelli (Giuseppe Bausillo), an emerging young writer, spots Sarah Andrews (Julia Nightingale) at a party. Besotted, Michael approaches the skeptical young woman, declaring himself in both verse and song. Sarah, an aspiring actor, isn't hesitant for long. An intense, passionate romance is ignited, but not until Sarah confides in Michael. She's doubtful that she's worthy of such adoration because of her troubled history. Undaunted, Michael is certain he can turn Sarah's life around as she has transformed his in one dazzling moment. Michael proposes that the couple move in together. They do. Pretty quickly, however, their joyful relationship is threatened by Sarah's old dependency on alcohol, drugs, and easy sex. Frightened both for her and for their relationship, he calls upon his closest friends and his parish priest to see him through the challenges with the woman loves. In simple terms, Michael won't give up on Sarah.
Is it any good?
Earnestness and a desire to create something unique are hallmarks of this very personal musical drama; missing are subtlety, wit, and finesse. The story, song lyrics, and spoken verse are all heavy-handed and literal. Motivations are thin. Michael falls in love with a vision, invests heart and soul in that vision, but after the initial spark, the audience is never clued in to what makes Sarah lovable. She seems more ideal than real. His belief in her transformation is more a belief in his own specialness than in hers.
Still, the sweetness of Ode to Passion, despite the over-the-top emotionality, may be enough to please audiences who like star-crossed romance. Plus, it's clear that everyone involved has given all to this movie, and it shows.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about drugs and alcohol use in Ode to Passion. Does the movie make drinking/drugs look cool? How did Sarah's addiction affect her decision-making, her goals, her self control? What were the consequences of her behavior? Why is it important for kids to understand the negative outcomes of substance abuse?
It's often noted that a location or setting can be considered a "character" in a movie. How did New York City set the tone for Michael's and Sarah's love story? How were all the characters reflective of the city? Could it have been set (and photographed) anywhere else? Why or why not?
In literary (or film) tragedy, a prime element is the leading character's "tragic flaw." What does the term mean? What would you describe as Michael's "tragic flaw?" How was it crucial to the movie's plot?
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