See The Bread, My Sweet!!!
As always, my reviews come to you with the skewed view of looking for how a piece of artwork expresses the myriad of events and experiences that derive from the life and death of a loved one.
"The Bread, My Sweet" gets highest honors, biggest nod from me. It is a romantic comedy of sorts, but there are nuances here that speak so loudly -- that offer glimpses into the realities of our fragile mortality and celebrations of life. Melissa Martin may have set out to tell a simple love story about an older Italian couple still living in the Strip District in Pittsburgh, PA, but she actually ends up telling a story of how societal shifts are happening everyday, giving voice to expressions of grief and love that endure for survivors well beyond the death of the loved one.
While this film has been out for a couple of years, it is just now finally gaining some nation-wide release and finally landed here in Seattle at our Metro Landmark Theater over in the U.District. If you have a chance, get yourself there ASAP to see this one! I do hope it will be released on DVD soon, too, but the website http://www.whoknewproductions.com says that won't happen till after the film runs thru its theatrical releases. "The Bread, My Sweet" may only be here in Seattle thru one more weekend (July 21 - 27), so get over to the U and see it now!
In my work with bereaved parent (being a bereaved parent myself), I see a lot of shifts between the generations as people come to grips with the life and death of loved ones, with how those loved ones are remember after they are gone. "The Bread, My Sweet" is an *amazing* glimpse into the shifts between the generations!! In this film, the character Bella -- played stunningly well by Rosemary Prinz -- is of my grandmother's generation. For her things like death and cancer are not to be talked about nor dwelled upon, for it is *life* we are living. So when Bella's character is given a fatal diagnosis, Dominic -- played fabulously by Scott Baio -- a character of the younger generation wants to tell the family, have as much medical intervention as possible. Bella tells Dominic she is going to live the rest of her life at home, not in the hospital, and she makes him swear he won't tell anyone she is even sick.
Bella's character faces life and death like my grandmother's generation -- pull up by the boot straps and move on. If you don't have boot straps, find some and move on. Dominic's crisis comes not only in his grief for Bella but in his need to express what's happening, to give voice to his reality of grief and love, to share this with his brothers, to share this with Bella's daughter, to make one of Bella's dreams come to full expression before she dies. This is shift, the chasm and connection between generations. It is a reflection of the work I am doing in the real world where grandparents/great-grands whose grandchild/great-grans have died do not want hear about it, do not want to express grief, do not understand why the bereaved parents would want to continue saying the dead child's name, honoring that child's life and death. And yet the parents will simply not be closeted anymore to whisper words like "death" and "cancer" and they are demanding that the expressions of grief and love happen. It was amazing to see a form of this play out on the screen in front of me as I watched "The Bread, My Sweet".
There is also a very particular expression of life in the Italian way, in the Pittsburgh way. Massimo -- played brilliantly by John Seitz -- is a classic Italian grandfather who screams to be heard, pounds floors to call out, uses the most inappropriate nicknames for in place of affection, sings drunkly to celebrate, and ultimately comes to terms with his wife's impending death in his own way. Bella, too, is a classic. Every situation calls for making sandwiches! And their daughter Lucca, also a classic Italian daughter of my generation who runs as many miles away as possible only to find that the coffee-can-dreams have meaning for her as well as her parents.
The whole cast is FAB! Kristin Minter plays Lucca showing all the subtlety and slow realization of many Italian daughters I've known. Schuler Hensley as Pino plays an amazing range of experiences that I felt spoke to the reality of grief as our children experience it. For we treat kids as if they are immune to grief, but they fully understand in their own way, exactly what it going on -- and they feel lied to if we aren't straight with them! And Billy Mott as Eddie is adorable and that scene when Dominic tells Eddie about Bella's illness is just beautiful. Have to also give nod to Nick Tallo as Bomba and Adrienne Wehr as Tamela, tattoo girl!!
And Melissa Martin does a wonderful job with the vision of the film -- especially within the context of a very short production schedule! Her decision to have Dominic tell Massimo of Bella's death in Italian -- the only time we hear full lines of dialogue in the language outside of a single word here and there -- classic, brilliant. Of course that is the way the full expression of what is happening would be communicated between Dominic and Massimo. Martin's choice to have Dominic's mother's death inform his expressions now with Bella's death -- brilliant, right on the money.
Just all the way around, a good film. Worth the $s to see it. Worth the time spent to be entertained but also to see something really unique -- something magical and true at the same time. Kudos to everyone involved. Cannot wait till it's out on DVD!!!!