Niccolò Ammaniti’s The Miracle from SKY Italia Reviewed on ZANI

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The Miracle is a new psychological drama series from SKY Italia (The Young Pope, Borgia) with strong religious overtones throughout the episodes. Created by award-winning Italian author Niccolò Ammaniti

(I'm Not Scared, As God Commands also known as The Crossroads, both have been made into critically acclaimed films). From my own experience after reading Ammaniti’s novels, he writes complex, intertwining and engaging plots that are thrilling as well as being poignant. Therefore, drawing upon my own conclusion, I knew The Miracle would be well worth a view.

The Miracle starts with an Interforces (the Italian Law Enforcement Agency that deals solely with Mafia-related crimes) raid on mafia boss Molocco’s (Sergio Valastro; Inspector Montalbano, Squadra Antimafia - Palermo Oggi) hide out in the outskirts of Rome wherein an abandoned swimming pool stands a statue of the Virgin Mary. Much to the surprise and shock of the Interforces, the Virgin Mary is continually weeping blood from her stone eyes. Italy has a theological mystery on their hands, in which the authorities do not want to share with their citizens, let alone the rest of the world.

Fabrizio Pietromarchi (Guido Caprino) Witnessing a Possible Miracle

There have been many reports of weeping statues of the Virgin Mary across the world, and over the years. Comedy writer, John Sullivan was inspired by this phenomenon for his hit BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses, in an episode entitled The Miracle of Peckham. Del Boy witnesses a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping at his local church. At first, he believes it is a miracle, then when Del Boy realises the weeping is due to a leaking roof when it rains, Del Boy uses his knowledge to cash in and raise money for the church, much to the delight of the priest, even though he knows the funds were raised fraudulently.

Yet SKY Italia’s The Miracle is not a comedy, even though there are amusing moments throughout the series. After the raid and the location of the weeping Virgin Mary, the government order an investigation, led by government official Giacomo Votta (Sergio Albelli; Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Miracle at St. Anna) who calls newly elected Prime Minister Fabrizio Pietromarchi (Guido Caprino; We Believed, Medici), who looks uncannily like Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, to witness this possible miracle. Pietromarchi is only too happy to oblige as this gives him an excuse to break away from a debate about Italy leaving the EU and attending a gala event with his long-suffering yet beautiful wife, First Lady, Sole Pietromarchi (Elena Lietti; Just Married, Like Crazy), who doesn’t stop the advances of a singer that evening whilst her husband is away on business.

Elena Lietti as First Lady, Sole Pietromarchi

At Molocco’s abandoned mafia hideaway, Pietromarchi meets a meek but professional biologist Sandra Roversi (Alba Rohrwacher; Hungry Hearts, Sworn Virgin), whose life revolves around work and looking after her terminally ill mother. Like Votta and Pietromarchi, Roversi and the others who encounter the statue are mesmerized by this possible miracle. Soon all find their lives changing forever, some for the better and some for the worst, over the next eight days as The Miracle is set over an eight-day period.

Whilst Pietromarchi and co are witnessing a Miracle in Rome, we see Padre Marcello (Tommaso Ragno; Happy as Lazzaro, 1992) wandering the streets of the eternal city looking for satisfaction with a local prostitute, then stealing Euro coins from a punter at the local arcade, before getting home for a microwave meal washed down with vodka, as Marcello watches his porn DVD collection. At the end of episode one, we hear a voice talking about the spirit of mankind, soon the camera cuts to Marcello in a church, holding a service, he is a priest who has truly lost his way. It transpires in episode two that Marcello is a personal friend of the Prime Minster Pietromarchi who invites Marcello, unaware of his double life as a gambler, porn addict and con man, to witness the weeping statue. For Marcello, this is the wakeup call he has been searching for all his life.

Padre Marcello (Tommaso Ragno) Searching for Salvation

Ammaniti, as with his novels, creates a deep understanding of the characters by presenting their fears, their suffering, their desires, their living conditions and events, that act as a catalyst for their interaction with the world. It may not be empathetic, yet with his books and The Miracle, you understand certain acts are not random acts but driven by emotion and circumstances. Like, the biologist Sandra, who lifts some of the blood that the statue of the Virgin Mary has wept, so she can give it to her mother, believing that it maybe the blood of Christ and her mother will be saved. So, Sandra’s faith, the situation with her dying mother and the opportunity at work, enlightenment salvation, and temptation, leads to her stealing,

The Miracle is a stylish, thought-provoking, warm, atmospheric, spiritual and gritty drama with an engaging plot and stimulating subplots that crisscross, enforced by an ensemble of seasoned and capable actors, even Italian super actress and beauty Monica Bellucci has a cameo.

The Miracle has a cameo from Monica Bellucci

Frequently The Miracle reminded me of the works by the legendary Italian actor and director Vittorio De Sica, (Marriage Italian Style, The Bicycle Thieves, Miracle in Milan). A director renowned for showing the sensibilities of the characters within his films, in an unusual and sometimes hostile environment. As the key characters search for a meaning and a better life for them and their loved ones.

As the series ends, not only will you be left with a lingering feeling, you will be looking on your phone for the next available flights to the eternal city, due to the stunning and spectacular cinematography of Rome throughout the series.

The Miracle is out now on DVD and iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play, well worth a view

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Read 1221 times Last modified on Sunday, 24 March 2019 17:51
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