The Best of Youth Reviewed by Selma Duckler

Dropped on:October 2, 2012
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The Best of Youth (La meglio gioventu).This comes from  the title of a series of poems written in 1954 in Friulian (an ancient Italian dialect) by Pier Palolo Pasolini. D.Maffia, biographer writes,”Paslolini’s dialect poetry…came to be in order to decipher the present using the distant past”.
One could use the same language to describe psychoanalysis, and it is also the major theme of this majestic 6 hour film that is one of finest movies I have ever seen.It was made in 2003 as an Italian mini series for Italian television, now available in two 3 hr discs.At the Cannes 2003 Film Festival it won the prestigious Un Certain Regard award, and accumulated rave reviews  wherever it was shown. In the US it was shown in a few cities in art houses. The theme of  this penetrating compassionate film is about the love of two brothers each for the other, that illustrates how one   survived the  inevitable conflicted feelings, and one could not. But it is not a film of is too delicate,and loving in its portrayals…because of the luxury of a 6 hour screening, there is time to  show the complexity of the characters without overdone dramatic scenes to make an essential  point. Beautifully acted, we see struggle in their non verbal scenes..this film has an uncanny effect of a  mirror of ourselves,or of  those that we know very  well.How is it that some have an easy way of putting people at ease and move effortlessly through entanglements to achieve success, and others,also  loving and caring find rejection and misinterpretation of their efforts and the same entanglements regress and come to a failure,and the outcome is destructive and angry.

It is the story of a family from 1966 through 2003. It is a good family..there is love,respect,devotion..the mother is a good mother…much more than the good enough mother…but she could not stop  destructive forces in one son. Someone says to her that she was a good mother. She sadly says, “no, I was not the mother that  Matteo needed me to be”. The sadness, the helplessness, the acknowledgement of her failure,the self blame in this poignant scene remains with me .. I saw the entire film twice..The 6 hours of this film is not long enough. It is that good.

It starts in Rome summer of 1966. We meet the Carati family, the parents, Angelo and Adriana, the eldest girl, Giovanana, the brothers Nicola and Matteo and the youngest sister, Francesca.Both brothers are studying for oral exams in the university.Both young men are very handsome, articulate, charming.They are probably about 20 and 21 years old.Angelo, the father comes into Matteos room where the boy is studying for the literature exam.He wants Matteo to help him move a television set downstairs into the car.Matteo says that he is studying for his coming oral exam the next day. Ask Nicola, Matteo says . He is not doing anything. The father says why are you studying so hard. Are the professors aware of who they are dealing with? Matteos essays have  been published in many papers, and he all ready has a following as a brilliant literary scholar. Would Mateo like the father to phone the professor and tell him whats what? No, Matteo decidedly would not like that. So the father goes across the hallway where Nicola is sitting on a couch with his best friends Carlo and Vitale (who will go through the entire 37years of the story with us). they are laughing and joking as they talk about a trip they are making to Norway as soon as the exams are over. The friends cheerily mount the tv set & take it down to the car.Angelo says  to his son, Nicola,why is Matteo always so uptight? Whenever, I ask him something, he is so uptight that he cannot do it. what is his problem?

Matteo wants a job. He is hired at a mental institution as a “logotherapist”. The staff doctor explains to him that he is to take his  patient for a daily walk. He is to talk to her pleasantly and casually, and make her feel at ease.He is assigned Giorgia, a young woman, mostly silent, who is beautiful with very intelligent eyes, in spite of her often vacant attitude.They walk along, not in unison,she very separated and independent while he happily shows her the beauty of the park. She darts out into the street and he runs after her, and scolds her for putting herself in danger with the heavy traffic. He touches her arm to bring her back to the sidewalk and she starts to scream, Don’t touch me. It becomes a very alarming disturbance very fast, and he tries to calm her, eventually moving her along to a library that he loves. Here she must be quiet.He brings some of his favorite poetry and  reads to her, and they have a beginning of a sometimes sweet, sometimes stormy relationship, as she is very erratic and unpredictable.She meets Nicola and comes to know the brothers as  friends. Matteo becomes very identified with her,listens carefully and responsively to her, and takes pictures of her.

 It is the day of the exams and Nicola appears before the principal professor of his pre med courses. He intends to be a doctor.His kindly professor gives him an A even though he doesn’t entirely qualify for that. The professor says he has has applied his sympathetic factor. When a student has sympathy he gives added points because a doctor must have sympathy. If the student doesn’t have sympathy he subtracts point because the worst thing that could be is a doctor  who has no sympathy. So he gives Nicola an A.Then he gives him some advice. He tells Nicola to get out of Italy as Italy is a dying country where dinosaurs now rule, and the dinosaurs must be killed or necessary new growth will never happen. Go to London, Paris, America if you can. Nicola says to the professor, then why don’t you leave? The professor says I cannot because I am one of the dinosaurs that must wait to be killed.He asks if Nicola wants to be a surgeon. Nicola doesn’t know yet.

Matteo appears before his Italian literature professor. The professor asks him to present his view of a famous poet selected by the professor. Matteo who knows his literature well,says he has nothing to say. The professor is astounded. Nothing ! what do you mean. Matteo explains he means the poetry of this this poet is empty…the  poet himself is empty. there is nothing to say. the professor becomes testy and angry. “Name a poet that has something to say”, he orders.Matteo is happy to do that . He offers his choice of a poet who writes with meaning. The professor becomes incensed. He finds Matteos choice  very offensive. He says that he is the professor, the expert and it is he who knows what grading to give the poets. Matteo picks up his books and papers, says he doesn’t think he belongs here any more, and he walks out. He gets an F.

He goes to the mental asylum to  take a walk with Giorgia.This  has become an important occasion for him. After that he meets with Nicola, and shows Nicola pictures he has taken of Giorgia, her face and her hands. He points out scars that are there because she has frequent electric shock treatments. He wants to know if that is illegal. No, Nicola tells him. Unfortunately it is legal. Matteo finds this barbaric, and decides to kidnap Giorgia and return her to her father. That night, he comes to the asylum and  tells the guard that he left a book there.  The guard knows him and lets him in. He goes to the file room and finds her file which has the fathers address and then he wakes up Giorgia, and tells her to come with him, which she does. She has come to trust him.

He is supposed to meet Nicola,Carlo, and Vitale to start their trip to Norway. School is over.The 3 pals are waiting. they have borrowed a fancy car, they have their passports, and now they are joking about girls, and their future in Italy where the unemployment is high.Will they find work? But the humor is great , and they are being very silly and jovial. they are joyfully young, they all graduated and school is out. An exciting adventure is about to begin.
When they see Matteo approach them, they look concerned as there is a girl with him, and they had decided no girls on this trip.Looking at the approaching pair,Vitale says that girl is not quite right. There is something odd about that girl. He is absolutely right.  It is very apparent to the casual observer that her lack of observation, and her failure to connect with people establishes her as an odd person.
Their plans change a bit.
Matteo and Nicola leave with Giorgio to take her to her father, and they will meet the others at the border in a day or so. And so  they board a train to take her to her father who lives in a village in the mountains. They sleep on the train. Giorgio nests her head on Matteo’s shoulder and he puts his arm around her as she sleeps. Sitting in the opposite seat,Nicola mimes in a funny way, that they make a sweet couple as he pokes gentle fun at Giorgia’s handicaps. Matteo gives a condescending half smile.Its not that funny.

When they arrive to the  main street in the village, a former priest joyfully recognizes Giorgia and they embrace. He exclaims the church hasn’t been so good to him, but Georgia always loved him and he loved her. She could recite long segments of prayer and bible that others could not. She was always a little strange, perhaps because her mother died when she was an infant, but she had been a light in his life. He says the beginning of a prayer, and she hesitantly, but with warmth recites the entire passage.
Her father , they learn, moved 3 years ago to another village and they have just missed the daily bus. The Priest has a barn, its not deluxe, but they can spend the night on the straw in the barn.The brothers ease Giorgias anxieties, by setting up a clothes line with rags etc. to give her a private area. She announces that she will not remove her clothes. Nicola smiles broadly, and says neither will he. He has a comfortable manner with her, that helps her to feel safe. He reads to her as she falls asleep.
During the night it begins to rain and Matteo cannot sleep. As he wanders around, he sees a notebook and picks it up to glance through it. The pages are all drawings which he is examining.He is interrupted by an hysterical attack from Georgia. Thief…thief..give me that..she is wild as she grabs the book and runs out into the rain, screaming insults at him. The men run after her..Matteo saying he didn’t know it was hers, he just saw it lying there. She is ferocious in her attack and anger at Matteo. It is only Nicola who can calm her. they get her back in the barn, soaked through, and get dry things on her, and settle to sleep again. But she will only let Nicola approach her, and for a long time after she is unresponsive to Matteo, who sadly looks at her one day, and says he sees that he is getting the silent treatment. This night we see the pouring rain and hear the thunder, and then we see Matteos face which is wet from tears, not rain.
 Why does he get rejected? He loves was he who planned and made her escape.Why does Nicola receive the love which is due to him?

The next day they arrive in the new village, and meet the father who sells produce from a cart. He is genuinely glad to see Giorgia and kisses her, but he will not take her back. In fact he is angry that they brought her, as he  works hard to send them money to make her well. Electric Shock? what is that? well if the doctors do it, it must be good for her.He is not interested. He explains he has children with his wife Rosa, and life is very expensive.He cannot take care of Giorgia, and then he becomes angry that he should be expected to defend himself with strangers. He becomes belligerent, and so does Matteo. It goes physical, and Nicola breaks it up and they leave with Giorgio to consider their options.
This is a beach town, and they are young, so their spirits revive in a hurry. they clown around doing acrobatics on the beach, and cheer for Korea when the crowd in the restaurant cheer for others watching the world cup finals. their antics make Giorgia laugh, and for a fleeting time she g ets to  be the playful adolescent that her illness has lost for her.In another restaurant Matteo insists that she go to the counter to buy 3 ice creams herself, and that she can do it. She hesitantly walks up to the cashier with her money and the ice creams, and thrusts the bill as the cashier not knowing how to handle it. Unhappily at that moment 2 young cops stand behind her to order ice cream and witness her inability to make this transaction. They ask her for her ID. She doesn’t know what they are talking about, and she withdraws.they see that she is incompetent, and take her away. the boys do nothing as they will end up in Jail. they leave without her, but the episode has a profound effect on Nicola.
 He decides that he is going to be a psychiatrist, and devote his life to changing the nature of mental health care  and treatment in Italy. Many years later he becomes head of the same institute.that Giorgi is in and takes the doctors to trial about abuse of patients.He had found Giorgia after all these years, tied to a bed there and in a catatonic like state. He wins his lawsuit, becomes a great pioneer in changing the out dated mental health treatment in Italy, and in the final scenes of the movie,is able to have Giorgia (the last of the inmates) live on her own, in an independent house with former residents of the institution.The development of this, throughout the movie is its major subplot.We can see that the archaic attitude of Italy is that mental illness is a curse brought on them by a God who is making them pay for their sins, and the treatment must be punitive. In court an alcoholic says he was brought there because he drank and they gave him electric shock. One psychiatrist says that is the prescribed treatment for alcoholism.

When the brothers  get to the border where they were to  have met Carlo and Vitale,they find that their friends  have left. Nicola continues on his own to Norway, and Matteo stays in Italy but does not see his mother for many years.  he cuts off contact with his family.

Nicolas  dream is to go to the North Cape, Europe’s most northern point..right before the North Pole, but he never makes it there. He wanders through Norway, meeting bands of Hippies and expatriates from America escaping Viet Nam and the draft.He joins a group chanting solemn incantation of words (and drugs)that develop into a hypnotic trance. He asks who is the genius that wrote this magnificent verse. A robed woman pauses momentarily from her chanting, and says Allan Ginsburg. the group disrobes and naked go to bathe in the lagoon. He smiles at his new  friends, starts to strip and happily join in. He is no longer ever entirely naked as he wrote home that he is never again going to shave or cut his hair, and hippie style his head and face is  covered in black curls.

Eventually he runs out of money, and finds a sawmill that is hiring. the sawmills pay very good wages, and the people are pleasant. this whole period is shown as spoken letters to his mother. A lovely Norwegian girl takes him to her home and they live together. He is not this time life is beautiful and joyous to him.

In the same period of time, Matteo has returned to Rome, and very impulsively joins the army. the discipline is harsh and Matteo accepts these unfair demeaning demands as a welcome and necessary  condition for his sustenance. One morning before being dismissed for weekend pass, the company lines up for inspection. Those with an unpolished shoe, a crumpled tie not lying flat,a slouch all get harsh fines, and lose the free weekend.As they are dismissed for their weekend, Matteo steps forward in line, and says he refuses to go out so the Officer says ok, you are confined to barracks for a time far longer than the pass, and also fined with demeaning jobs. that is what he does for the whole weekend . His buddy comments that he brought it on himself,and the Sargent was unusually mean to him. No, Matteo defends the sergeant. He was right. Lack of discipline must be punished severely.He welcomes it.

It is 1966 and Nicolas Norwegian girlfriend shows him on tv the horrific Arno river flood that submerged Florence in water. thousands of young people came to help save the treasures in the museums and art galleries in Florence. they formed long lines in the city squares and one by one handed the precious books down the line of people…one to one  to save these delicate manuscripts.Others brought musical instruments out to the street from  wet auditoriums.there was much good cheer, and food was supplied by businesses and wealthy patrons.
Therese  said surely you will want to go there?  Nicola would and he left Norway to go back to  Italy.

The army was also assigned to Florence, and when a truckload of soldiers was let off to help clean up the mess one of them was Matteo. He spotted Nicola, and had  a happy reunion with him. Nicola had no idea that his brother had joined the army. Nicola found his old friends, Carlo and Vitale, who screamed with joy when they saw God, you are so ugly, they laughed at his beard and long hair.
A rescued piano was sitting on a truck  in the street, and some lovely girl was playing stately classical music on it. the music and the girl drew Nicola and he went over to lean on a wood bar that allowed him to be immediately across from her and  look directly at her hands and face. Completely engrossed in music making the girl didn’t glance up until she played the final chords of the demanding composition. then she looked straight into his eyes and face,and the message of his expression was immediately interpreted. Instead of ending the piece which was the composers intent, she raised her eyebrows at him in acknowledgment, lurched forward in an energetic bend to the keyboard and started a vigorous complex new  piece elaborate with vibrant  arpeggios. No language was needed here. A man and a woman found each other.

Her name is Giulia and she said, she had been playing the piano since she was 10. Her mother wanted her to be a concert pianist, but her father was impressed with her scholarly abilities. she opted for mathematics and was a student at the University in Turin.Angelo was looking for a medical school…his former choice had been Rome, his home…but now all was
 changed. He enrolled at the medical school in Turin, and Nicola and Giulia much in love live together but do not marry.It is 1968.

Political storm clouds are gathering, and by 1974 there are violent student protests and riots which are very ugly and dangerous.Nicola and Giulia are running from an especially vicious encounter with  army trucks heavy in pursuit of them and others. they are running for their life. they round a corner and Giulia hysterically pounds on the closed door of a courtyard, screaming let me in, I’m pregnant. save me. The door opens and they come into a desolated empty courtyard that could be a hundred miles away from the scene they just escaped. they sit on some steps and start to recover from the chase and marvel at the solitude in which they find themselves. Nicola,ever the humorist,says to her laughingly, great excuse you gave them, and he mimics her screeching whine…let me in, I’m pregnant. He laughs and looks at her…but there is the look they shared at the piano when they first met. He stares at her as he receives the message women have been giving men from time immemorial.

Matteo is in Turin also, in the army and is on the other side of the conflict from Nicola and Guilia. He is an excellent soldier except for his terrible temper, which at times is uncontrollable
.He has one good friend named Luigi, a boy from a poor home who has become his companion. During one of the riots, Luigi is attacked and beaten badly. We learn later he is going to be a paraplegic the rest of his life. At the time of the attack, Matteo knocks off Luigis assailant…a young student, and starts to beat him. He is beside himself with anger,and there is no doubt that he is going to kill this young man. the other soldiers with great force pull Matteo off of the boy in order to save his life, and he is dismissed from the army. He joins the police force and is assigned to Sicily which is now an especially violent place, as it is in control of the Mafia.One day he visits Nicola..they haven’t seen each other since the time they met at the flood in florence. He has never met Giulia. It begins pleasantly, but Giulia cannot tolerate that he is in the army, tells him that he is on the wrong side,and leaves the room to play her piano.She says you would have killed that kid. Yes, Matteo says and I couldn’t care less. that is a rich kid and has everything, and Luigi is a poor boy and joined the army because he no choices..and when it is all over that kid will still be rich, and Luigi will still be a paraplegic.
Before he goes to Sicily he goes to visit Luigi who is learning to live with his handicap, and is quite cheery. He says I could’t have done it without your mother. Matteo doesn’t understand. Luigi says your mother comes to see me every few days, and does exercises with my hands and has taught me to use them. I even have a woman, he happily confides. Matteo leaves for Sicily…never says a word to his mother about her help.

Nicola and Giulia have a daughter named Sara.There are tender and sweet scenes, but they are short lived as Guilia is drawn more and more into political struggles. Nicola parents come to see the baby. They have a little concern that the child was born out of wedlock, but they bring gifts, and are very loving. Adrianna, the mother shows Nicola X-rays she has found of Angelo. Nicola sees that his father has cancer and is going to die.

Giulia becomes a communist, and has cell meetings in her home. Nicola hates this and at these times  takes Sarah out and disappears. Nicola is busy with his work with the asylums, but he misses his  wife who is no longer happy or loving. He writes his friend that they are living like brother and sister. She is becoming more and more distant. Then she joins the Red Brigade, a notorious terrorist organization that organizes assassinations all over the country in their effort to take over the government.One night with a packed suitcase, she starts to leave. Nicola awakes and barricades the door. She is violently angry and orders him to let her out. He repeats why…why, and in the end he steps aside and she leaves.She is given a gun, and passports to many countries, all with different fake names, and she starts a new and disturbed life in secret as a saboteur. Nicola becomes the single parent of his little daughter who thinks her mother is dead and her father won’t tell her. This goes on for many years.

Matteo is busy in Sicily with horribly brutal killings conducted by the Mafia. the citizens are fearful of the Mafia, and there is no protest. they are all intimidated. Off duty , he meets a photographer in a cafe. There is an instant attraction, especially from her point of view. Her name is Mirella. She asks his name. his name is Nicola, he says, and so that is what she calls him. what does he do? He is an engineer. She loves it that he is building important places. She photographs him and he puts up his hand in playful protest,but his fingers are spaced so you see his face. She confesses she really wants to be a librarian, so he tells her of the beautiful library in Rome where she must go for her study.

Back at work, there is especially gruesome murder in a cow slaughter house, and the murdered man is hanging by a meat hook, among cow carcasses. As usual the curious crowd gathers, and Matteo in his very stern manner shouts them away from the scene, when he spots a man with a young boy. He stomps over..and says What, a child here? You idiot, what do you think this is? A circus?  The father says the kid is quiet, and not causing any trouble. whats the problem. Matteo gives him a shove,and tells him to get the kid out. the father says you can’t hit me…I will get my lawyer, but by that time, Matteo has leveled him to the ground. The other cops rush to subdue Matteo, and he is reprimanded by his superior, who had received this tough cop with much anticipation, and orders him out of Sicily.

He goes back to Rome but doesn’t contact his mother.

Angelo the father dies. At the funeral, Carlo who has become a important minister of finance in the government chats in the kitchen with Francesca, Nicola’s youngest sister. they fall in love eventually and marry in a very sweet scene. At this wedding, Vitale says that he has been fired from his managerial job at Fiat along with thousands of others and decides he will become a contractor and fix problems in houses as that is all he can do. they lament Italy’s sad economy, and how Fiat no longer is the desirable car it was and cannot meet the new competition.

Giulia is very unhappy, and tries to see her daughter from afar. Meanwhile Nicola and his daughter have become very close,and Sara tries to deal with her anger over the loss of her mother. Then Giulia gets a hit list. She is supposed to assassinate Carlo, who is now her brother in law. She tells her superiors that she is not up to it, hasn’t’ got the nerve for it, shielding from them that this is her brother in law. they say nonsense. you can do it. Giulia meets with Francesca who now has 3 children, and tells her she must make Carlo leave Italy. Francesca is undone. She knows that he will not leave and what will she do if he is murdered. Giulia wants desperately to see Sara and they arrange a place that while not meeting, Giulia can get a look at her daughter. Sara loves her aunt, Francesca,and spends much time with her in their happy home.

Matteo separated from his family, is working in Rome as a cop. He walks into the beautiful library of his childhood one night and again sees Mirella who is now working there. they fall in love. One night he takes her bowling, and in the car at the end of the evening, their passion becomes uncontrollable,and they make love in the car. She believes this is a beginning of a life with this man. she doesn’t even know his name is Matteo. He is Nicola to her.

He doesn’t call her again..he doesn’t answer her calls. One night he tells his police companion that he will cover the others night duty…you will work day and night, the officer asks. Yes, says Matteo. they have in the office, for questioning a night club owner for alleged drug dealing, and a simple man who works for him. The night club owner, glib and smart is passing off that he is innocent, and the employee is the one to blame. Another officer comes in and says that Matteo has a visitor. He says he can’t be disturbed but when it is announced that it is a young woman, he goes to see,and discovers Mirella, who has checked up on him and now knows his real name and where he works. She wants to know why he won’t see her. He becomes very hostile and rough and yells at her to get out. He never wants to see her again. She leaves sobbing.
He comes back to the office in a vile mood. As the night club owner becomes more defensive and angry, Matteo is aroused, and starts roughing him up,yelling to the other officer that this is the guilty man and the other guy has nothing to do with it.the night club owner is screaming he wants his lawyer, as Matteo becomes so violent, the other cops rush in and pull him away.

It is New Years eve and he goes to see his mother after a long long time. A party with the family is happening. Carlo and Francesca are there with their children, and Nicola and Sara. they are all wearing silly New Years hats (the start of 1984) and playing guessing games with the children. they are laughing and having fun, and are surprised to see Matteo. He is kind and loving, and stays a short while. His mother is very moved to see him. He goes back to his apartment, and phones Mirella. She is laying on the floor in front of the fireplace in an old sweater and pants crying, but she will not answer the phone. she knows it is Matteo.She is conflicted. She knows she is pregnant with his child, but she cannot tell him after his terrible cruelty to her.
He calls a few more times, and she doesn’t answer. He is also crying. He is holding the phone and sobbing.Outside fireworks and cheers are happening in great spurts and the sky lights up from the fireworks. He walks to the balcony, deep in thought, back and forth, calls again, and then with great impulsivity, he throws himself off the balcony.

The family is devastated by the tragedy. The mother who has been a much loved teacher of poetry all of her adult life…looks dumbly at her students who are waiting for her response when they read the poetry. She takes some pens and glasses out of her desk,puts on her coat, and walks out of the classroom. She lives a life of solitude and withdrawal. they all blame themselves.
Nicola, especially ,feels he should have saved his brother.the loss of Giuliana and now Matteo seems more than he can bear. A prominent judge is assassinated in Sicily, where the oldest sister of the family, Giovanna, who is now a judge, has gone to live because they need law there so much. He knows about Giuliana telling Francesco of the imminent threat to Carlo. He goes to Giovanna, tells her that he always believed that people should be free to do what they want, and he never interfered with choices, but since Matteos death, he doesn’t believe that anymore. Now he believes it is his responsibility to interfere where he sees danger to those he loves or those that pose danger to others. He tells Giovanna  that he will arrange with Giuliana a place she can see Sara, and when she comes the police can nab her. She is on a high profile wanted list by the government as a traitor. He says he knows that she is either going to get herself killed or she is  going to kill someone and he is going to stop that.He no longer believes that he will let others choose freely their life, when he sees tragedy.
He arranges Giuliana to see Sara, but instead the police catch her. She goes to trial and is sentenced to 17 years in jail.

She is in a maximum security prison in Spoleta. Nicola goes to see her and says he loves her and wants to marry her. He asks for her hand in marriage. She hates him. She cannot do that. He sends her piano music…something only you can read, he writes. Her fingers go over the notes,and in her head she hears the beautiful music. then she calls for the guard and says to send the package back to the sender. She doesn’t want it.

Nicola is busy at the hospital which he now heads. He brings Georgia in , and asks if she will come for an hour each day and just talk to him. She stares at him. He offers her an orange. She withdraws. After a long silence, she whispers orange. He gives it to her. She finishes peeling what he has started and squeezes it over the plants on his desk. She tells him, the plants  will die unless they are fed, and we know that she is going to come to see him.

One day walking by a photography exhibit, he sees the list of artists include Mirella. He knows that his brother had a relationship with a woman of this name, but he never met her. He walks into the exhibit and is stunned to see a large photograph of Matteo with his spread fingers over his face. It is also in the catalog, so he buys the catalog and gives it to Giorgia as a gift.

It is 1992. After a time Giorgia gives the catalog back to him. He says keep it, but she says no. when she first saw the photograph she told Nicola to find that woman and learn about the photograph, but Nicola said it was probably taken of someone the photographer saw on the street. No, said Giorgia. the photographer knew him. you can see it in his eyes.But Nicola thinks this is nonsense and doesn’t do that. Now when she gives the book back to him, she says the titles are all in the index. He looks at the index to find the page of Matteo’s photo and is amazed to see the title of the photograph  is” Matteo when he was Nicola”.
Obviously the photographer did know Matteo. He hunts her down where she lives on an island off of Sicily, and finds her beautiful and wonderful. He tells her he has a 18 yr old daughter, and she tells him she  has a 7 and a half year old son. he does the math, and knows the truth. He comes back to Rome,and tells his mother that she has a grandson. More than that the loving Mirella has invited her to come and visit the boy so he can meet his grandmother.

At first Adriana says she can’t go to Sicily, but Nicola insists,and she meets her grandson who looks like Matteo and  who is so happy to find a grandmother. All goes so well,that Mirella invites her to stay (this is the beautiful island of Stromboli) and she lives there until her death some years later.
seventeen years have passed and Giulia is freed and goes to work in a library in Rome.Sara , her daughter is newly married and asks about her mother. Nicola says are you happy? Yes, says Sara. Then be generous,he says. So sara gets in touch with her mother and they meet. Sara tells her mother she is pregnant and spends the night in her mothers apartment.

Nicola falls in love with Mirella and they marry.

In 2003 we are back in Norway where, Matteo’s son Andrea is on his honeymoon going to the North Cape where his father and Nicola tried to go at the beginning of the movie.He writes his mother, and his new Dad and says he has come there for his father who wasn’t able to go.


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