Hamushy’s review published on Letterboxd:
After the first time I saw the Italian classic that is Cinema Paradiso I was completely blown away by how the film traded a big and significant plot for a nostalgic and detailed portrayal of a man's life. The film starts with successful filmmaker, Salvatore Di Vita, receiving the news that his former hometown's old biograph-projectionist has passed away. After receiving the news, he takes a nostagic look back at his youth. Remebering his childhood in Sicilly, his early fascination with cinema, his bond with the projectionist Alfredo and his first love with a young woman named Elena.
It's kind of difficult to decide what I should start praising this film for. The film is simply perfect and I can't wait to see the original directors cut which adds about an hour. The soundtrack contains some of Ennio Morricone's best work and the filming locations paint an even more beautiful picture of Sicilly than The Godfather films. Non-linear storytelling is quite common, but I can't think of any film that have utilized it in quite this fashion and jumps back and forth between different points of a man's life in this manner. We get to follow the character Salvatore in three different points of his life, as a child, as an adolescent and as an adult. Salvatore as a child is brought to life by Salvatore Cassio, I recently stated that I consider Judith Vittet's performance in City of Lost Children to be the best child actor's performance I've seen, but after watching Cinema Paradiso I'm torn between Cassio and Vittet. The adolescent Salvatore is played by Marco Leonardi and the adult Salvatore is played by Jacques Perrin. These three actors bring an incredible consistency to the character with some very fine acting and also brings the same consistency to the dynamic between them and the astonishingly gifted veteran actor, Philippe Noiret, who plays Alfredo the charismatic projectionist of Cinema Paradiso and Salvatore's only father figure.
How director Guiseppe Tornatore is able to create the feeling of nostalgia when portraying a time I wasn't a part of and a place I never visited escapes me, but a big factor might be that he uses every movie-lover's nostalgia towards cinema and fascination with movies to create this heartfelt Italian masterpiece. Cinema Paradiso is an unforgettable feat which incorporates a broad variety of the emotions a person might go through in their life into the story and from Salvatore's perspective the viewer gets to experience joy, friendship, passion and love, but also sorrow, loneliness, longing and heartbreak. Undoubtedly this is one of the grandest and most sentimental coming of age films ever created.