Antonio is a young man who lives in a rural Italian village who doesn’t quite have his life together. But he does know some English, so when the local priest asks his help translating during a confession from Bridget, who speaks only English, he’s on hand to help.
But as the woman confesses, it’s clear to both the priest and Antonio that she’s dealing with a considerable moral dilemma. But as Antonio translates the priest’s counsel, he begins to disagree with the priest and takes liberties with the translation — a decision that just might change the course of their lives.
Written and directed by Francesco Gabriele — who also plays the lead role –this charming short comedy has sharp and witty observations about religious influence in daily life in Italy, but ultimately it succeeds by making viewers smile, as a young man takes quick advantage of a situation to change his — and another woman’s — luck for the better.
Though there are moments of ribaldry and innuendo and some fun poked at Antonio’s rather slacker-ish appearance, the humor in the writing is generally warm and affectionate, reminiscent of the community portrayed in the story. (This warmth is also a hallmark of the film’s visual approach, whose handsome cinematography and graceful camerawork takes full advantage of the beautiful views and picturesque historical detail of its rural setting.)
The humor is not exactly wholesome, but it is grounded in the web of interconnections of the village: everyone knows everyone in this village and is familiar with their individual foibles and faults. Through this lens, Antonio comes off as a bit of an aimless layabout, much to his mother’s exasperation.
He’s played by Gabriele with a sheepish and sleepy charm, but there’s also an innate brightness and intelligence in him — a cleverness that’s activated when actor Jennifer Ann Elmore shows up as the English-speaking woman in need of spiritual guidance. He seems to come to life, getting sharper and faster in his thinking as he grasps just what opportunity has fallen into his lap. Watching him go after what he wants and take his chance is highly entertaining, and even inspiring, as Antonio helps another find her own path, and puts himself finally on his own.
“Italian Miracle” exists in a world that is cloistered, with some insularity, and part of Antonio’s dilemma is that such an environment likely doesn’t have a big enough arena to exert his intelligence and talents. But even tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, there’s still a place for a tiny miracle to pop up in the middle of nowhere. But even divine intervention needs a human assist: it may take a little luck to spot it, and a little chutzpah to take advantage of it when the chance presents itself.