Prepare to feel old: Giuseppe Tornatore’s wistful, honey-glazed ode to nascent cinephile pleasures, already something of a nostalgia piece when it first hit our screens in 1989, is 25 years old. Now, to prepare to feel young again: returning to cinemas in spiffily remastered form ahead of a new Blu-ray release, the film retains its wide-eyed charm, pitched halfway between unrestrained romanticism and unknowing kitsch. It’s never exactly been fashionable to like ‘Cinema Paradiso’, and time won’t have done much to soften the sneers of dissenters. But the advantage of brazen sentimentality is that it gives the film very little to lose.
Sure enough, this viewer’s tear ducts started prickling as early as the first scene, when renowned Italian auteur Salvatore (Jacques Perrin) learns that a certain Alfredo has died, and we mistily flash back to his post-WWII childhood in Sicily. Of course, Alfredo (the wonderful Philippe Noiret) is the village cinema projectionist. Six-year-old Salvatore (button-cute Salvatore Cascio) is the movie-mad poppet he takes under his wing. Mischief and melodrama ensue, but it’s the film’s ‘you can’t go home again’ message that now hits hardest amid the sweetness.