Ferzan Ozpetek (Turkey, 1959), who moved to Italy as a teenager, debuted as
a director with Il Bagno Turco/ Hamam (1997).
Harem Suare (1999)
Le Fate Ignoranti/ His Secret Life (2001)
La Finestra di Fronte/ Facing Windows (2003) is an atmospheric
quasi-thriller that focuses on the fate of discriminated groups:
gays, Jews, illegal immigrants, and frustrated wives (oppressed, respectively,
by bigots, Nazis, authorities and selfish husbands).
Then the film emphasizes the importance of memory, both
personal and historical memory, by juxtaposing the way society forgets about
the tragedies caused by racism of the past and the way individuals forget
about their own life story.
The old man at the center of the plot has lost his memory, but actually he
is the one who truly remembers. The woman who befriends him and eventually
learns from him is the one who, distracted by tedious daily routines and financial struggles, has lost her memory, the important part of
her memory: memory of what she really wanted to be and memory of her responsibilities and joys as a wife and mother.
He has no choice but to spend his remaining days reliving his painful
memories, but she learns to rediscover those memories.
Both have to live with the memory of a failure: his failure to save his best friend and her failure to do what she wanted to do. But, of course, hers is easier to remedy, whereas his is impossible to remedy, a fact that points at the
different dimensions of the historical and the personal.
The film is also about how difficult it is to see yourself as you really are.
The young wife sees herself when she looks from the window across hers into her own house, the old man see himself every day and would rather forget what he sees.
In 1943 in Rome a young man fights an older man and stabs him to death,
and then runs desperate through the dark alleys of the city.
Several decades later, Giovanna and her husband Filippo are arguing
about a recent incident in a shop when they notice an old man who seems
to be lost. The old man confessed that he doesn't know where he is and where
he wants to go. Filippo refuses to leave him there and they drive him home.
Filippo tries to bring him to the police but then has to take him home because
the line at the police station is too long. Giovanna is furious but has no
choice. They have two children. Giovanna's best friend is her neighbor,
the immigrant Amine, married to a black men.
Amine invites Giovanna to watch the young
handsome man who lives in the apartment across the street and who undresses in front of their window.
The old man tells the children that his name is Simone and he cooks breakfast
for the family.
Filippo works a night shift and Giovanna is an accountant in a poultry factory
where Amine also works. Giovanna notices that a worker has been replaced by
an illegal immigrant but Amine admonishes her to ignore the fact.
When Giovanna gets home, she is upset to find Simone still there: Filippo
claims again that he couldn't leave him at the police station and Simone
even offered to buy a videogame for the children. To make ends meet,
Giovanna bakes pastry for a pub. Simone sees it and gives her advice on
how to make her cakes better. Giovanna is determined to take Simone to the
police station. She stops at the pub to deliver the cakes and Simone
disappears. The handsome neighbor, Lorenzo, shows up and tells her that
the old man has left her car. He offers to help her find him. It is the
first time that they talk. They find him sitting on the steps of a fountain.
Then they drive through the Jewish ghetto and notice that he's getting
excited. He demands to be dropped. He has visions of the tragic events of
1943, when the Nazis arrested entire Jewish families. As they follow the
old man on foot, Lorenzo tells Giovanna that he is the manager of a bank
branch. Lorenzo and Giovanna finds Simone banging at the door of a Jewish shop.
She brings the old man back home. Lorenzo calls her and while staring at
her from the window. Lorenzo tells her that Simone mumbled something about
being in love with him. Giovanna invites Simone to take a shower but he
simply sits in the bathroom staring at the floor. She helps him undress
and notices the numbers stamped on his arm, a sign that he was in a
German concentration camp. The following day Amine tells Giovanna that
obviously Lorenzo loves her, that he has been spying her the same way that
they have been spying him. In fact, Lorenzo invites her to a cafe and
then tells that he knows everything about her life. They walk to the shop
where Simone stopped and inquire about a Simone. It turns out that Simone
was the name of the brother of the owner, who is now an old woman, but
Simone died in a concentration camp. Simone disappears again.
Meanwhile, the arguments between Filippo and Giovanna gets worse: they
struggle to make ends meet. She sees him as a failure. Giovanna reads a
letter that she found in the pocket of Simone's jacket. It's a love letter
written by Davide to Simone. Obviously they were gay. She shows it to
Lorenzo at a park. Lorenzo tells her that he has been promoted and the bank
is transferring him to another branch. He tells her that he loves her
and Giovanna kisses him passionately. Giovanna tracks down the Davide of
the letter and goes to visit him: it's Simone! Simone has regained his
memory and tells her that his real name is Davide, and Simone was his lover.
Simone never read the letter. Davide was a baker in a world-famous
pasticceria (pastry shop). His maid tells Giovanna that Davide saved many
lives during the war. Back home Giovanna calls Lorenzo and tells him what
she found out. Amine advises her to have sex with Lorenzo. Giovanna
walks into his apartment but then looks at the window and sees what Lorenzo
must have seen so many times: her family. Giovanna cannot do it and leaves
Lorenzo. Giovanna brings Davide's jacket to him and finds that Davide has
gone mad: he has baked dozens of fantastic cakes. He now tells the story
of the first scene. In 1943 he overheard his fascist boss discuss with another
fascist that the Nazis were about to arrest all the Jews. Davide killed
his boss and ran around the city to warn the Jews, thus saving many lives.
But he had been scorned all his life for being a homosexual, so he chose
to alert first those who scorned him, and last his own lover Davide.
Therefore he saved them, the ones who made fun of him, but not his lover.
Davide now advises Giovanna not to make his mistake: to do what will make
her happy, not just survive. Giovanna tells Filippo that she has resigned
from the factory and wants to find a job in a pasticceria. She is baking
a cake when Amine comes to tell her that Lorenzo is packing. Lorenzo leaves
after a last gaze at her window. Giovanna finally snaps and runs down the
stairs to Lorenzo but he has already left. She writes a letter to Davide.
She has a job in a pasticceria and Filippo has finally gotten a day job.
But she knows that she will still need his advice.
Cuore Sacro/ Sacred Heart (2005)
Saturno Contro/ Saturn in Opposition (2007)
Un Giorno Perfetto/ A Perfect Day (2008) is an adaptation of
Melania Gaia Mazzucco's novel.
Mine Vaganti/ Loose Cannons (2010)
Magnifica Presenza/ A Magnificent Haunting (2012)
Allacciate le Cinture/ Fasten Your Seatbelts (2014)
Istanbul Kirmizisi/ Red Istanbul (2017)
Napoli Velata (2017)
Dea Fortuna/ The Goddess of Fortune (2019)