“La Corrispondenza” Review

La Corrispondenza Poster

La Corrispondenza [2016] – ★★1/2

La Corrispondenza or The Correspondence is a new film by renowned director Giuseppe Tornatore, the mastermind behind cleverly-crafted La Migliore Offerta (2014), beautiful Malena (2000), and critically-acclaimed Cinema Paradiso (1988). The film, with music from Ennio Morricone, is about an astrophysics student Amy Ryan (Olga Kurylenko) and her infatuation with an older professor of astrophysics, Ed Phoerum (Jeremy Irons). When circumstances put a distance between them, the couple is determined to resort to any channel of communication to continue being “in touch”.

There are two distinctive ways to look at this film: it can be viewed as (i) a touching story of unlucky star-crossed lovers, who, despite their differences in age and background, are committed to each other and refuse to say goodbye; or, as (ii) a story of an older married professor holding in an “emotional” hostage situation (through numerous e-mails, videos and messages) his much younger student, who he, essentially and indirectly, has taken advantage of. Throughout the story, either the first or the second viewpoint dominates, but, quite unfortunately, by the end of the film, the general feeling is that the second viewpoint prevails, because the film, largely through its repetitive “tricks”, fails to convince the audience of the beauty and tragedy in the couple’s affection.

The film begins unusually for a romantic drama: a happy couple in the arms of each other lovingly saying goodbye after a night of passion. Normally, this will be the ending of a film and not its beginning. And then, we find out the reason for the drama. Given the nature of the film, it will be either loved or misunderstood. The film tries very hard to decorate in “hearts and flowers” what is essentially a past love affair between young, beautiful, tender and submissive Amy and middle-aged, charismatic, but also a bit manipulative and paternalistic Ed. The movie also tries to “reverse” the roles, and make Amy stronger and Ed weaker: Amy works as a stunt woman alongside her studies, and Ed was battling an incurable illness. However, this does not make the plot more balanced, or the protagonists’ obsessive relationship – tenderer. As with Malena, Tornatore prioritises the beauty of the imagery and situation, over substance.

The positive aspect of the film is its relation to the present day. In the age of social media communication, be it through Skype or Facebook, many people would relate personally to the film and its main premise: the two protagonists juggle their busy lives, while having a “long-distance” relationship. Although La Corrispondenza is original in certain aspects of the story, the film could also be classified as a distant cousin of You’ve Got Mail (1998) and Just Like Heaven (2005), but taken to a slightly new level.

the correspondence

There are also admirable attempts to create a philosophical – almost “galactic” – significance to the story and the characters’ relationship. Amy and Ed seem to keep talking about lost souls in the universe who search and then recognise bodies they wish then to be united with/reincarnated into. La Corrispondenza deals with the topic of death, loss and grief, and the emotion is conveyed well, even if the story weakens the impact. The fact that that there is a secret passion involved only makes the story more cinematically delicious. Films that deal with absurdities or “impossible situations” could be successful and critically acclaimed, for example, Wings of Desire (1987), Ghost (1990), but, for them to succeed, they need something more than simply a beautiful idea or imagery. 

The acting also convinces in La Corrispondenza. Kurylenko comes across as a young woman obsessed with her professor on a deeper level, seeing both a mystery to be discovered and a mutual-understanding in him, and grieving for his absence. Jeremy Irons is his usual Jeremy Irons, playing a coolly sarcastic knowledgeable professor who is authoritative and powerful in his presentation and image. It becomes easy to believe how young Amy (Kurylenko) could see almost superhuman abilities in her lover-deity. Incidentally, Kurylenko already has experience of being in films with little substance and much artistic merit to them, including Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder (2012).

Other good thing about this film is that it is stylish, and the beautiful soundtrack by Ennio Morricone makes this picture strangely nostalgic and appealing. Besides, there are picturesque scenery of Italy, and York and Edinburg, UK.

✉️ La Corrispondenza’s plot could be seen as either ludicrous or touching, but the fact remains that the film runs out of ideas soon after it starts, projecting the same twists on a repeated cycle, with Ed’s musings boringly bombarding not only poor Amy, but also the audience. 


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Wonderful review! I am interested. I’ve adored Jeremy Irons for decades. How nice he’s got a hit with a quality film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      Thank you! Irons has been unusually active recently. Today I will also watch “The Man Who Knew Infinity” with him. It should be good.


      1. Awesome. I’ll look forward to the review.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. filmsCine says:

    I have to see this movie! Fantastic review. I seriously love Jeremy Irons, and any score by Ennicio Morricone makes the movie just great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      If you like Jeremy Irons and the music by Morricone, do see this movie. Regarding plot development, it is far from being great, but it has its peculiar charms and is romantic.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Je n’ai pas encore vu le film j’attends avec impatience. En plus il traduit une histoire que je vis en ce moment à peu prés similaire et puis dans çe. Film mon acteur préféré de 30 ans que je suis dans sa carriére et tout ce qu’il fait et ses œuvres caritatives je l’adore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmovies says:

      Dans un sens, ce film est beau, poétique, émouvant. Si vous avez une connexion personnelle avec le film, il se transforme en quelque chose plus puissant. J’espère que vous l’aimerez.


      1. Je vois que le film vous a plu et m’aider à comprendre ce que je vis. Je vous remercie infiniment . Peut-être à bientôt pour d’autres commentaires.

        Liked by 1 person

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