Every once and a while it can be refreshing to come across a film bereft of cynicism and negativity. Rosa Karo’s magical modern day fairy tale The Italian Key hits the positivity button and aims to utilize enchantment as entertainment. Much to my surprised delight, it succeeds across the board.
Cabella (Gwendolyn Anslow) is a 19-year old orphan whose guardian, non-related uncle Max, has recently passed away. While Max was from a rich family lineage, the extended family do not recognize his guardianship of Cabella and leave her to fend for herself. Which could be problematic, except Max left her a strange key and a clue to find out about her past.
Cabella travels to the small Italian village of, surprise, Cabella, where she finds an old pink villa that her key fits perfectly. She moves in, makes friends with the locals, including a ghost boy named Angelo who lives in the villa as well, and begins unraveling the mystery of her past. Before the film ends, all characters and events will find their connections and all threads of mystery, so wonderfully entangled throughout the film, will finally be let loose.
My tastes don’t normally tend to the beautiful and whimsical. Not that I can’t appreciate it, but I tend not to seek it out. Having The Italian Key come my way just made my day, for the lack of cynicism I expressed above. Additionally, everything about this film is beautiful (there’s that word again) to behold, from the actors cast in the film to the locations to the color palette. The film feels like a cheery, fun Masterpiece Theatre episode, or maybe more appropriately Muppet Classic Theater (not for the use of Muppets, this film has none, but for the enjoyment I got out of it).
Now, the film isn’t entirely perfect, and this is where the critic’s cynicism winds up injecting some into a project completely devoid of the notion. The plot does become predictable, and the acting is not always the smoothest to behold, but we’re talking minor quibbles here. Regarding the predictability factor, so too are so many fairy tales or the like, and that may be entirely because we’ve been brought up to know them so well that our childhood steps in and reminds us of what we may’ve forgotten when met with something similar.
Overall, I found The Italian Key to be a wonderful film-watching experience, and the gorgeous imagery continues to pop into my head long after the film has stopped running. I don’t think it’s for everybody; you have to be able to appreciate something more pleasant and cheery, with a strong emphasis on “love” as the dominant theme, and sometimes it ain’t cool to admit that you’re capable. I get that, so no problem here. For me, though, this film is aces, and I’m glad I got to take the ride.
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