Back in his native Sicily, where he scored his greatest triumph with Cinema Paradiso, director Tornatore confronts the magic of celluloid with distinctly less happy results in this story of a man with a movie camera. It's 1953, television hasn't yet reached Italy's poverty-stricken South, and Joe Morelli has little difficulty in persuading the locals to part with their hard-earned lire for the price of a screen test. Here's their big chance at movie stardom, since the footage is sent back to the studios in Rome and the right face might just be plucked from obscurity for a glittering new career. That's how the theory goes, but even the hustling, bustling Joe can't fail to notice the burden of dreams he carries around with him, particularly when the teenage orphan Beata pins all her hopes on his battered van and its travels across the Sicilian landscape. As the unprepossessing Joe, Castellitto tries hard to veil the ugly truth behind his character's money-making scheme, but the effort is so obvious it's hard to care about him either way, especially when his treatment of newcomer Tiziana Lodato's striking Beata veers on the neolithic side of macho. Much more palatable is the notion that the villagers' open-hearted confessions to Morelli's camera prove more touching and true than anything in the Italian movies of the time. Disappointing.