Metro Weekly

Mother Nature

Reel Affirmations 2006

Mater Natura

Review by Tom Avila

Rating: star (1 out of 5)
[Critic’s Pick!]

Sunday, 10/15/2006, 5:00 PM
Feature presentation, $0 at Landmark’s E Street Cinema
Italian with English subtitles

THE ITALIAN MATER Natura is less a movie than a loosely joined collection of occasionally interesting but largely empty images. This is disappointing because the story Natura claims to be telling sounds far more interesting than the lifeless tangle that shows up on the screen. This is one you are more likely to enjoy by staying home and reading about it in the program book.

Desiderio is a devastatingly beautiful male-to-female transgender performer and prostitute who has fallen in love with the incredibly handsome Andrea, a kind and gentle carwash worker. Our heroine is planning to leave the business, convinced that she and Andrea will marry and live the kind of happy, passionate life only two gorgeous Italians can live. But Desiderio’s dreams of la dolce vida are threatened thanks to a series of events that range from the predictable to the absurd. Will Desiderio and Andrea’s love survive? Will they be torn apart by the cruel whims of fate?

You will quickly find that you really don’t care.

It’s not that the acting is particularly bad — it’s not great, but it’s mediocre acting in Italian so it’s at least enjoyable to listen to. Cinematically there are moments that are absolutely gorgeous. Dramatic landscapes, pulsing nightclub scenes, postcard-like beaches. But director Massimo Andrei lets image overwhelm story. There is simply too much going on. What could have been a simple, well-told love story is weighed down by the addition of plotlines that include an organic farm/therapeutic resort, an awful theater troupe whose connection to anything is utterly unclear, a Bollywood-like dance number and two music-filled makeover montages.

In the end, Mater Natura is a lot like its lead characters: lovely to look at but ultimately not very interesting. — TA

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