November 25, 2003
By Matt Langdon
At once a fine character driven drama and an unconventional love story about two lonely people Light of My Eyes is considered part of the resurgence of quality Italian films.
Antonio (Luigi Lo Cascio) is a chauffeur driving the streets of Rome who has a friendly and composed mien making everyone around him feel at ease. Maria (Sandra Ceccarelli) is a somewhat stern 30-something single mother who although still attractive has begun to show her age and has developed stress lines in her brow. Together they make an unlikely couple; but not at first.
Antonio is introduced to Maria after he almost hits her daughter (Barbara Valente) who is errantly crossing the road one evening. Antonio takes a liking to both Maria and her daughter and he begins to hang out with them when he has free time.
Right from the beginning Antonio wants a serious relationship but Maria prefers just to sleep with him. In time, Antonio takes on the part of a guardian angel and begins to help Maria with financial difficulties. It turns out she owes money to a local crooked loan shark and so – unbeknownst to her – he begins to work for loan shark to help pay her debts. But in time the work is difficult plus he is over-worked, underpaid not to helping a man with illegal activity.
The film, directed by Giuseppe Piccioni, uses an interesting narration. Rather than the standard voice-over that tells us what the main character is thinking we hear Antonio reading various passages from one of his science fiction books, which (very obviously) line up with his own life. He is an outsider who observes the world he is in and in some ways he views himself like an alien from another world. Not literally, of course, but he does have a detached observant connection to everyone around him. This is way to signal to us that Antonio's actions with Maria are a way to take him out of the stratosphere and give his life some meaning.
Maria is cold and indifferent to Antonio's advances but she realizes that even though she may not be in love with him she misses him when he is not around. They are not a perfect couple but they manage to be useful to each other. In this way, the film has a realistic, rather than a Hollywood-like, touch.
The film is fairly laid back in all areas; the acting - while good - rarely goes over-the-top, the camera glides through scenes, the musical score has a syrupy new age element and the editing rhythms provide smooth transitions from scene to scene. But don't let that hold you back because the film is very engaging too primarily because it uses many close-ups on the main characters so that the viewer can study their faces and try to figure out what they are thinking.
The film too has an otherworldly quality - that is not unlike some of the films of Kieslowski - in that it deals simultaneously with fate and chance in the real world.
The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and looks great. The film is shot with a very clean and sharp throughout and there is hardly any grain to be seen. I noticed very slight artefact but no edge enhancement.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital and sounds very good. Most of the film has a musical score underlining each scene and lending a serene mood to the whole thing. The dialogue is in Italian with optional subtitles.
The best extra is a six-minute animated short film by Sean McBride about dreams titled Dreamscapes. The film asks the simple question: 'How many different ways are there to dream?' And since it is about dreams the narrative takes off in unexpected and delightful ways.
Light of My Eyes is a good contemplative film about two lonely people who find each other by chance. The film won many awards in Italy but somehow no distributor p
--Matt Langdon/ DVD Talk - Review