L’Estate di Martino (Martino’s Summer) created quite the buzz at last year’s Sicilian Film festival, winning awards both for Best Film and Best Actor. This noteworthy Italian film was based on Giorgio Fabbri’s prize-winning script Luglio ’80 and stands on its own as a unique mélange of the father-son/coming-of-age piece – all set within the actual historic context of the 1980 train station bombing in Bologna.
Martino – played by Italian rising star Luigi Ciardo – is grieving the loss of his mother, whose presence is interwoven throughout the film during flashbacks of her reading to him during his childhood. This portrayed nostalgia for a more innocent time is able to resonate strongly with the audience. The most explored relationship of the film however is that between Martino and American Captain Jeff Clark, played by Treat Williams from 127 Hours. Their interactions act as reflections on both Martino’s relationship with his father, and the Captain’s relationship with his son back in Washington.
Martino and the Captain meet at the NATO base near the Italian teenager’s hometown where, after spying the American officers in action, he forces the Captain to teach him how to surf. As the two develop an affectionate bond, the Captain’s insightfulness unveils Martino’s desire for his older brother’s girlfriend Silvia, played by Matilde Maggio. I found Maggio’s performance a tad unbelievable and the relationship between Martino and Silvia felt like it was missing a little gusto -but maybe that’s just teenage angst? Conversely, the tender father-son dynamic between the Captain and Martino is a delightful filmic highlight and the serene beach and soft underwater shots are all beautifully delivered.
Martino’s Summer – a beautiful Italian story articulated with a touch of sweetness in a charming landscape.