A Magnificent Haunting (2 stars)

A Magnificent Haunting

Elegantly shot but emotionally lacking benign ghost story from filmmaker Ferzan Ozpetek

This benign ghost story from Turkish-Italian writer/director Ferzan Ozpetek revolves around a shy, twenty-something gay man Pietro (Elio Germano), who’s recently arrived in Rome from Sicily. A pastry chef at a bakery by night and a struggling actor by day, he’s delighted to discover an affordable apartment in the leafy Monteverde district. To his bewilderment though, he finds himself sharing his spacious living quarters with a group of immaculately dressed phantoms. Visible only to the protagonist, it transpires that these apparitions are all members of the Apollonia theatrical troupe, who went into hiding during the German occupation in 1943, and who is still waiting for news of their lead actress Livia Morosini.

Although the fantastical premise offers an interesting opportunity to examine Italy’s traumatic war-time past, A Magnificent Haunting doesn’t seem particularly interested in the experiences of its affable ghosts, who wile away their captivity practicing their song-and-dance routines and dispensing outdated advice to their host about auditions. An early sequence involving a candle-lit dinner lovingly prepared by Pietro for a casting director suggests the central character’s delusional nature, yet Oztepek swiftly glosses over this evidence of romantic stalking. Instead he proceeds to layer on the fairytale whimsy, throwing into the mix a Tennessee Williams-quoting drag queen and a handsome male neighbour who keeps bumping into our hero. It’s an elegantly shot and designed tale, yet strangely lacking in emotional weight.

Limited release from Fri 25 Oct.

Watch full movie: A Magnificent Haunting

A Magnificent Haunting (Magnifica presenza)

  • 2 stars
  • 2012
  • Italy
  • 1h 45min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Ferzan Ozpetek
  • Written by: Ferzan Ozpetek, Federica Pontremoli
  • Cast: Elio Germano, Paola Minaccioni, Beppe Fiorello
  • UK release: 25 October 2013

Shy, twentysomething Pietro (Germano) arrives in Rome and finds himself sharing an apartment with the ghosts of a 1940s theatrical troupe. Despite an interesting premise, Oztepek ignores the deeper emotional undercurrents and piles on the fairytale whimsy, and for all its elegant surface, it lacks weight.