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Il Giovane Favoloso review a sweeping, swooning Leopardi biopic

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This handsome biopic of the celebrated Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi may not be the most radical film on show at Venice, but still has much to recommend it

Ahead of the Venice screening of Il Giovane Favoloso, the heavens opened and the rain came down. A spectacular thunderstorm ripped in off the ocean, flaring the clouds, flooding the gutters and abruptly pitching the city towards autumn. The poet Giacomo Leopardi could not have arranged a more appropriate overture.

Hailed as the finest Italian writer since Dante, Leopardi viewed nature as all-conquering, all-consuming and geared towards disaster - at least for the human beings that it holds in its grasp. Mario Martones handsome period biopic paints the poet as an intense and sickly youth, given to prostrating himself on riverbanks and peering so closely at books that you fear he might lick them. Leopardi is pulled by agony in one direction and ecstasy in the other. Sooner or later he is sure to break down.

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