A beautiful Sicilian war widow (Monica Bellucci) arouses the lust of the men, the hormones of the boys and the resentment of the women in her small village. Giuseppe Tornatore’s coming-of-age-in-fascist-Italy-during-World-War-II drama begins by radiating cozy nostalgia, Tornatore’s stock in trade ever since Cinema Paradiso
, with easy laughs and an air of second-hand, bargain-rack Fellini. But Tornatore takes the film into unexpected places; as the war turns against Italy, the film becomes haunted and nightmarish, then ultimately, as the war ends and the rebuilding begins, it turns rueful, tranquil and wise. As one of Bellucci’s young admirers, Giuseppe Sulfaro is subtle and affecting, but what’s most affecting about the film is not the boy’s coming of age, but Tornatore’s own maturing as a filmmaker.