January 21, 2004
By Don Houston
Movie: Those of you who enjoy movies of all sorts have undoubtedly seen a foreign film or two that caught your eye. While most of us are familiar with the big name directors, there is also a thriving culture of movie making going on that mimics our independent movie making culture, although not one as heavily supported as the domestic market, and through the folks at Film Movement, a company that picks interesting movies to release each month, I got a chance to see a little gem from Italy, Ginger And Cinnamon (Dillo Con Parole Mie).
The movie started out by introducing the two lead characters, Stefania (played by screenwriter Stefania Montorsi) and Meggy (Martina Merlino) as an aunt and niece who are having problems with their love life. Stefania finds out her long term lover is a scumbag and Meggy has no love life at all (being 15 years old). Meggy makes a plan to lose her virginity by going on vacation to a island paradise, known for romantic encounters, and drags her aunt along as a chaperone to appease her mother. With all the appearances of a "chick flick", I braved watching the movie and found it to be a gentle look at social mores and stereotypes, all done with an Italian eye to detail.
The movie actually made some subtle remarks about pop culture, social expectations, and a coming of age theme tossed in for good measure but it also looked at the supposedly aged aunt (who was all of 30 or so years old) that acted like she was 50. Between the trials and tribulations of the two gals, both looking for something they think doesn't exist, yet is right under their respective noses, the movie also shows the pervasiveness of American pop culture invading the foreign shores (for better or for worse) in many ways. Does Meggy really just want to get laid? Will Stefania realize that she is not over the hill and has plenty of good miles left in her attractive bones? These are but two of the questions that popped in my mind as I watched the couple learn more about life while on vacation than they had obviously learned in years at home. Here's what the box cover said about the movie:
"While vacationing on the Greek "Isle of Love", the repressed 30 year-old Stefania reluctantly plays chaperone to her precocious 15 year old niece, Meggy. Unbeknownst to Stefania, Meggy plans to lose her virginity before the summer is over. Amidst a mélange of sun rash, broken diets, nervous girls, sleeping bags, orgasms, 80's music, and a little ginger and cinnamon, the two women discover themselves and their sexuality."
The acting by the principles was really well done and the supporting cast, while given far less to work with (providing more of a frame for the painting that was the ladies), also did a decent job. I think the plot was a bit nonexistent but with a little bit of editing, it could've been even better. In short, some parts dragged but I understood why they were in the movie, and how they contributed to understanding the inner workings of the gals, even if I think a bit more polish might've enhanced it slightly.
Who among us can ever truly forget our earliest attempts to mate? Those of us with some experience will even have the ability to recognize where Stefania's character was coming from, with her jaded nature and desire to avoid social entanglements. I'm going to rate this one as Recommended because I really think it had something to say, and said it well, in this personal look at love, romance and growing up.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen and looked pretty solid, especially considering its budget. The movie had some grain in darker scenes and a bit of pattern noise but the flesh tones looked accurate and I saw virtually no artifacts.
Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital Italian with optional Englis
--Don Houston/ DVD Talk - Review
By Deborah Young
Accomplished Italo helmer Daniele Luchetti ("Little Masters") takes a vacation from serious filmmaking in a happy summer teen pic written with pic's star Stefania Montorsi. "Ginger and Cinnamon" is an unpretentious romp about a 14-year-old determined to lose her virginity on a Greek island. Though the comedy's not all that sparkling and the cast generally uninspired, pic is pretty to look at. It should find international auds among teens and twenties willing to forego "American Pie"-type humor and ogling for cleaner but not prudish fantasies.
Pretty 30-year-old Stefania (Montorsi) has just broken up with long-time b.f. Andrea (Giampaolo Morelli) and ends up vacationing on the teen-infested island of Ios with her plump, ballsy niece Meggy (newcomer Martina Merlino). Meggy's summer reading is "Tantric Sex" and her chosen deflowerer a good-looking guy on the beach, who turns out to be none other than Andrea, still carrying the torch for his ex Stefania. Characters are lightly sketched, but the obsessive Montorsi and whiny Merlino (whom scripters forgot to give any positive qualities) manage to grow up a bit by pic's end.
--Deborah Young/ Variety - Review