By: Amanda Guarragi
Many people say that life is short. That we should not hold grudges, or waste time on the negative, but unfortunately those moments can consume us. As years go by, everyone reflects on past relationships with lovers, family members, and friends. Some are beautiful memories, some can be traumatic, and others can be filled with so much sorrow. Regardless of what we hold onto, the memories of how life used to be is burned in our minds, and impossible to ever fully let go. In Emma Dante’s The Macaluso Sisters, five young orphaned siblings make a living by renting doves out for ceremonies, in Palermo, Sicily. Dante takes her audience back to a beautiful, hot summer in 1985, a day full of secret lovers, enchantment, and close encounters. And a single event occurs that will change the course of the relationships between the sisters forever.
What Dante really captured was the sibling dynamic between Maria, Pinuccia, Lia, Katia and Antonella. All of the girls had different traits that came through in their dialogue. You could tell which sisters were closer, which one was more timid, which one was more adventurous, and it worked really well when transitioning to their adult selves. Dante used establishing shots, to connect the sisters to the apartment, in order for the viewer to understand the close quarters when living with your family. No matter the disagreements, the physical fighting, or yelling matches, they will always be there for one another. From the moment it started Dante made the apartment feel like home and also integrated the pigeons as the one consistent thing to bring the girls together.
The most beautiful moments in this film, are the scenes that have minimal dialogue. Dante shows the connection between the sisters, rather than explain how much they mean to each other. You see them enjoying each other’s company, and then arguing with each other, in the same breath. It is an in-depth look at family dynamics that was really refreshing to see. Maybe it’s because I come from a household that normally flips the switch like they did between conversations. There are some beautiful, emotional moments and the camerawork really captures the vulnerability in each of their performances. Dante explores the journey of time, healing, and reflection in this film, while showing the beauty of summer in Italy.
Emma Dante’s The Macaluso Sisters is a heartfelt and emotional look into a family, who experiences a tragic loss, and shows how the sisterly dynamic changes over the years. Dante places the camera in the room and closely highlights these women and their journey. The sisters are important, but the production design, and the importance of the apartment really hits the emotional beats towards the end of this film. It’s important to note that everyone grieves differently and Dante shows that between the sisters. Many things boil under the surface and eventually can lead to the wrong things being said. Dante perfectly shows love and resentment between the sisters, and makes a well-rounded family drama.