Naples ’44 is a film with a lot of history, as told though Norman Lewis’ WWII memoir and narrated by actor Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s too bad the film gets lost in translation.
The Italian city is the obvious focal point in Francesco Patierno’s documentary. Along with Cumberbatch’s smooth voice, Patierno has chosen various footage to also accompany Lewis’ writing with the intention to evolve the project into audio-visual time travel rather than a straightforward movie. That concept is fine, even though it isn’t entirely original, but Naples ’44 never elevates itself from that premise. I commend Patierno and his editor Maria Fantastica Valori (Certified Copy) for finding appropriate clips and for blending in dreamy modern day reflections, but their aspirations are basic and uninspired.
In relation to flashback documentaries taking place in exotic destinations, I reminisce over 2014’s The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden. While that film is also a flawed and boring endeavour, the filmmakers were willing to challenge themselves with multiple narratives and a colourful voice cast. Because of that motivation, The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden can afford to play in the big leagues. Naples ’44 needs to be repackaged and sold on iTunes as a video podcast.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie