"La Destinazione," the story of a young military recruit sent to remote Sardinia, is not as involving as you'd hope.
By JOSHUA TANZER
"La Destinazione," judging from the way the word is used in the film, might best be translated not as "the destination" but as "the posting" or maybe "the outpost." Emilio, a young conscript reporting for military service in the carabinieri or national police, is posted to a pastoral village on the island of Sardinia. For a hip-hop-generation urban kid, living among sheepherders is a shock. Without a discotheque or movie theater for 50 miles around, he's desperate to get reassigned to another destinazione. How can he do that?
"Put in a request," suggests a superior officer. "Or fine someone."|
"What do you mean?" asks the newcomer.
"So they will shoot you."
One major event happens a local man is murdered and the carabinieri have to hunt down his killer but this part of the story is given short shrift, at least as a mystery. It's more of a device to illustrate that life is different out here in the hinterlands, where you can't have a simple murder case without everybody's family getting involved in the aftermath.
Another thing Emilio finds different is romance. Specifically, there isn't supposed to be any. So when, out of the many beautiful raven-haired women in town, he falls for Giacomina, Emilio has no idea what kind of cultural taboos he's trampling in the process and what price he may have to pay.
None of these elements are explored too deeply they're really just aspects of a general story about culture shock. The film is probably intended as a portrait sometimes affectionate, sometimes self-critical of a corner of the world where the people have their own morality and justice that don't require carabinieri to enforce them. But without a strong sense of character or an involving plot, it doesn't do enough to draw an outsider in. Beyond the initial concept placing a thoroughly modern military man in the middle of traditional village life the film doesn't go deep enough to speak to a wider audience.
There's a moment when the murder suspect's mother comes to speak confidentially to the carabinieri commander, and she first makes sure that he's a Sardinian rather than a mainlander. He confirms that he is. "Fine. So we ... understand each other," she says before continuing in the local dialect. Similarly, you might want to be Sardinian to understand this film.
|JUNE 2, 2004|
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