Light In The Piazza (1962)

GUY GREEN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1962.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Story by , Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .

Olivia de Havilland plays an upper crust American woman traveling through Europe with her daughter () in this very enjoyable melodrama. While vacationing in Venice, her daughter’s beauty catches the eye of a young, rich Italian man () who falls in love and wants to marry her. What he doesn’t know is that Mimieux is actually mentally challenged thanks to a near-fatal blow to the head by a farm animal when she was much younger. DeHavilland doesn’t know what to do:  should she protect her daughter from what could happen should Hamilton find out the truth, or should she bank on the fact that he’ll probably never figure it out ? After all, his English isn’t that good, and his female friends do nothing but sit around and talk about movie stars which is perfectly at her daughter’s level. Not the most flattering opinion of young love, but the film does present some interesting arguments regarding the mentally challenged that are discussed with sensitivity and intelligence; these come to a head when DeHavilland’s husband comes over from the States to protest the idea of marriage and drag her home to an institution. The ending, where DeHavilland finally makes a vital decision, is fantastic.

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