Three years after the loss of his brother Vittorio, with whom he shared his entire career, Paolo Taviani returns to the works of Luigi Pirandello, which the pair adapted in 1984 (Chaos) and 1998 (You Laugh). In keeping with the Sicilian playwright’s vision, the film is not at all what it appears to be. The title may come from a 1910 novella, but there is no trace of that book’s jealousy-riddled plot. Instead, the focus is on Pirandello himself, or rather, his ashes, which are transported from a hasty burial site in fascist Rome to a permanent resting place in Sicily, on a trek that takes us through post-war Italy and its filmed memories, as seen in newsreels, amateur films and fragments of Neorealism. Having buried the master, Leonora addio then shifts gear from road movie to film adaptation, but here it picks a different Pirandello story, namely the last one, written shortly before his death in 1936. From the farewell of the title to its return to the writer’s last words, it is hard not to read this work, so free and yet so much a part of the Taviani world, as a moving brotherly farewell which, just as in 2012’s Golden Bear winner Caesar Must Die, once again uses cinema to give voice to literature and history.
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