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A Magnificent Haunting (Magnifica Presenza) (15)

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Review byJennifer Tate24/10/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Despite an interesting and somewhat unusual storyline, A Magnificent Haunting fails to enchant thanks to an uneven tone, underdeveloped characters and a laboured final act.

What’s it all about?
Co-written and directed by Ferzan Ozpetek, A Magnificent Haunting stars Elio Germano as Pietro, an aspiring, 20 something actor moonlighting as a croissant chef at a local bakery in Rome. When Pietro moves into a quaint, underpriced apartment, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot, however it isn’t long before he realises that seven and a half glamorously dressed ghosts already occupy his dream home. As further mysterious events unfold, Pietro tries his hardest to evict the irritating busybodies, but quickly realises that he quite likes their company and could actually use their help when it comes to conquering his dream of becoming a successful actor.

The Good
Slightly different to anything else he’s previously done, Turkish director, Ferzan Ozpetek deserves a certain credit for bravely experimenting with the supernatural world and toying with a number of different genres including drama, romance, comedy and horror for this undeniably oddball film. Although flawed in areas, his script (co-written with Federica Pontremoli) warrants praise for avoiding ghostly stereotypes and the paranormal figures’ back-stories (the ghosts were members of the Apollonia Theatre Group and have been hiding in the apartment since 1942, during Mussolini’s regime) is fairly original and commendably relevant to Pietro’s situation. Finally, Elio Germano puts in a creditable performance as the film’s kind-natured and slightly naïve lead character.

The Bad
Even though Ozpetek tries his hardest to combine a number of different genres, sometimes they don’t all quite come together (in terms of successful comedy, there’s very little of it) and as a result the overall tone feels frustratingly uneven. There’s also a sense that many of the characters are far too underdeveloped, with Pietro’s cousin Maria (Paola Minaccioni) being a bit of an irrelevant and frustrating character. The ghosts (despite their interesting back-story) are also heavily underdeveloped as personalities, which in turn, makes it rather difficult to feel sympathy for them and their situation. Finally, the final act is dragged out for far too long, killing any momentum that the film threatened to make.

Worth seeing?
With its underdeveloped characters, uneven tone and lack of comedy or scare factor, A Magnificent Haunting is an oddball film that doesn’t quite make the grade with any of the genres it toys with. Disappointing.

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Content updated: 26/09/2015 06:49

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