A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Last Paradiso, set among 1950s Italian olive farmers, focuses on the village playboy, who is married but openly has affairs with the local wives and daughters. He also protests the oppressive practices of the Mafia-like olive merchants. For this he pays a bloody price. Given the mature themes, only older teens would find this remotely interesting. Violence includes three fatal beatings, rape and attempted rape, and an instance of a woman defending herself against a sexual attacker by forking him in the thigh. A man is brutally beaten to death with a shovel. The murderer then seemingly cuts off the victim's genitals (off-screen). He sends the body back to the town square draped over a donkey to send a warning to any who might wish to rebel against the status quo. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "d--khead," and "whore." Men and woman kiss and have sex. A woman's breasts are seen. Adults use alcohol and cigarettes. In Italian with English subtitles.
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What's the story?
THE LAST PARADISO is set in the 1950s in the Italian countryside where olives are grown, harvested, and pressed into oil. The power is in the hands of a few landowners who control the price of the olives, keeping the local farmers and pickers on starvation wages. Schettino (Antonio Gerardi) is the boss overseeing the pickers, and he regularly singles out young girls who need the money, separating them from the other workers to rape them. He has bought off the local police and believes he can threaten and even kill with impunity. Ciccio (Riccardo Samarcio, also a co-writer) is the local playboy, seducing other men's wives and daughters for fun until he falls in love with boss Schettino's daughter, Bianca (Gaia Bermani Amaral). They dream of leaving their backwater behind, but Ciccio also wants to stay and stand up for the rights of his fellow workers. What will he do?
Is it any good?
This movie is a puzzler and isn't the lovely romance that the movie poster promises. Instead, we are invited into the dismal lives of olive harvesters who live off the Italian land and are brutally oppressed by the local mogul who fixes prices and keeps the people down. The Last Paradiso takes us to a place where families have lived together forever, where feuds and secrets fester. Apart from that setup, it's hard to say what point this is supposed to make or why we are supposed to care. Ciccio is a thoughtless, fast-talking philanderer who betrays his wife and makes grand promises to the townspeople about rising up against financial oppression, but he actually does nothing except put the woman he loves in danger and make his wife unhappy. In short, he's a selfish, impulsive jerk.
When something bad happens to him, it's difficult to be surprised, and doubly difficult not to see that he brought his sordid fate on himself. The plot twist at the halfway mark clarifies nothing; in fact, it only adds to the fuzziness. Those looking to get lost in a gorgeous Italian romance should look elsewhere.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Ciccio doesn't seem to care that his cheating hurts his wife in The Last Paradiso. When he tells her that what she considers a sin isn't a sin to him, how do you think the movie wants us to view him?
When a new character is introduced halfway through the action, how does he change the action going forward?
The story showcases a lot of hurtful behavior, from infidelity to rape to murder. Do you think the movie forgives some of the behavior but condemns other behavior? Do you think we do that in life? Why, or why not?
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