The Postman

The idea of this 1994 film sounds cutesy and middlebrow: the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (a dubbed Philippe Noiret), taking sanctuary on an island off the coast of Naples after being forced into political exile in 1952, serves as mentor to the young local postman (the late Massimo Troisi), giving him pointers in wooing the local woman he’s determined to marry. Fortunately director and cowriter Michael Radford, who made the memorable 1984 version of Orwell’s 1984 (as well as the less memorable White Mischief), somehow brings the premise off with both charm and restraint. Sometimes the restraint may be less than felicitousNeruda was a darker poet than he appears to be in these sunny climesbut Noiret seems perfectly cast, and the film’s warmth and sympathy are underlined by some intelligence. Based on Antonio Skarmeta’s novel Burning Patience and also known as Il Postino; Troisi had a hand in the adaptation as well. In Italian and Spanish with subtitles. 108 min. (JR)

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