Waiting for Heartbreak in Sicily
By Skip Sheffield
If you are hankering for romantic heartbreak, Italian-style, “L’Atesa” may be just the ticket.
“L’Atesa” means "The Wait" in Italian. That’s what the character of Jeanne (Lou de Laage) is doing at the Sicilian mansion of her boyfriend Guiseppe. Jeanne arrives at the house at a time of mourning. The brother of the lady of the house, Guiseppe’s mother Anna (Juliette Binoche), has just suddenly and unexpectedly died. The butler Pietro (Giogio Colangeli) says Anna will not leave her room.
“Am I eating alone?” Jeanne asks Pietro. Yes you are.
Jeanne has traveled from Paris to reunite with Guiseppe, whom she hasn’t seen since last summer when “something” happened.
When Anna finally emerges the next day, she is evasive and stand-offish. Anna knows something she is not telling Jeanne.
Director Piero Messina takes best advantage of the beauty of Sicily, and of Lou de Laage, who strips down to her panties to swim in the lake near the house. A couple days later Jeanne meets two boys on the lake. One is gay. One is not. Jeanne invites them both to come to Anna’s house., There Jeanne enjoys an innocent flirtation, dancing with the boys and pointedly flirting with the straight one. Jeanne is observed by Anna and thereby comes the reveal of the “something” that happened last summer.
“L’Atesa” is for romantics who remember how it was to be young and hopelessly in love. Such relationships are perilous. Messina contrasts the beauty of the setting with the turmoil Jeanne feels and the compassion Anna feels for her. It is a sad/beautiful story that may stir memories of something you did in your youth that foolishly blew a beautiful relationship.