My love affair with Chilean poet Pablo Neruda started right around the time I saw this film. I was in high school then, and I was just beginning to appreciate that artfully crafted poetry knows no cultural, language, or age boundaries. Neruda's was rich in symbols I couldn't easily untie, and yet his fluid style and universal themes were instantly accessible.
So, too, is this rich and tender Italian film starring Philippe Noiret and Massimo Troisi. Set in a village in Italy where Neruda spent his time in political exile, Il Postino is the story of Mario, a bumbling fisherman, who wants to get the stink of fish off of his body and find a new job. Poor and with nothing but a bicycle, Mario takes a temporary job as Neruda's personal postman. Every day, Mario delivers piles of letters and packages to Neruda's gorgeous and isolated cliff-side home overlooking the sea. Mario is awkward and endearing, and Neruda grows fond of him, introducing him to the poetry that exists apart from the page. When Mario sees beautiful Beatrice in the local tavern, he tries to convince Neruda to woo her for him. But while Neruda does Mario the favor of going to the tavern to show that they are friends, Neruda's true gift is teaching Mario how to be confident with his own language. Winner of 17 awards, including an Oscar for best original score, Il Postino is a rare and beautiful treat.
Recommended by Leah Youse