Review: A Magnificent Haunting / Cert: 12A / Director: Ferzan Ozpetek / Screenplay: Ferzan Ozpetek, Federica Pontremoli / Starring: Elio Germano, Margherita Buy, Vittoria Puccini / Release Date: October 25th
This light Italian comedy-drama from director Ozpetek, who is most famous for his gay interest indie films such as Loose Cannons (2010), sneaks onto Starburst's radar by virtue of its fantastical setting, and has already won four Italian Golden Globes, including best film.
Pietro (Germane) is a 28-year-old croissant maker with obsessive tendencies and a desire to be an actor. Moving into a flat by himself for the first time, he is more than a little disconcerted to discover he actually shares the apartment with a group of ghosts. Far from being hostile, however, this amiable former musical hall troupe teach him more about life, love and comradeship than any acting school.
At the time of year when most spirit-related films are geared toward scaring the bejesus out of you, it's nice to have one with a heart instead. Although, the moment when we first feel the presence of the spectres is slightly creepy, in the main these ghosts are non-threatening and genuinely likeable.
It's easy to identify with the character of Pietro; awkward, lonely and socially inept, who, following the advice of the well-meaning (but very dead) acting company, almost manages to get a job on a film, only to blow it by taking too much of their advice. The story touches on the struggles of the troupe during Italy's fascist era (when they died) as well as on themes of loyalty, passion and belonging. Not your usual Starburst film, but it's still one we can recommend if you want to get away from the bloodshed and violence for a while.
It's certainly not laugh-out-loud funny, but there's plenty of moments which raise a smile, leading up to the inevitable heartstring-tugging conclusion. It's perhaps better referred to under its original title Magnifica presenza as what the film captures is indeed a presence and not a haunting, but we can't begrudge them a commercial title this time of year.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10