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     Edoardo Winspeare,from the impoverished Salentino peninsula in Southern Italy, previously made a documentary in his homeland, Saint Paul and the Tarantula, about love-crazed local women who dance for hours and hours in herky-jerky circles, claiming to have been bitten by tarantulas. Winspeare thought to convert his interest in "Tarantism" into a first feature film. Pizzicata is his made-up tale (Winspeare wrote and directed) of one such Salentinan young woman who, her lover dead, turns into a barefooted whirling dervish.

     Pizzicata offers her mournful story. It's 1943, and Cosimo (Carmine Panteolo), the daughter of a poor farmer, finds a true love dropped from the sky: a wounded Italian-American pilot, Tony (Fabio Frascero), whom she nurses back to health. As it turns out, he speaks perfect Italian, so he's introduced to the local populace as Cosimo's cousin. They can't declare their love, because Tony would be discovered by the Fascists and shot as the enemy. Meanwhile, Cosimo is courted by a testy neighborhood guy, Pasquale (Paolo Massafra), who suspects something is going on with the supposed cousin.

     The narrative is a rather obvious one, and unfolds extremely slowly, perhaps to simulate the rhythms of rural life. Unfortunately, the non-professional cast are lacking in charisma; and whenever filmmaker Winspeare seems lost in his narrrative, he resorts to some drab pastoral song-and-dance by stiff-before-the-camera locals. The stabs at ethnography aren't enough to move the story. You'll ask yourself: when will the War end, when will this tedious picture end, so the couple maybe can get together?

(March, 1999)


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