Stijn Coninx’s biographical film “Marina” is about the early life of Rocco Granata, an Italian born Belgian immigrant who’d later become a pop-sensation in his country and beyond. The title refers to his first hit single by the same name.
The film begins in the late forties with Rocco’s father Salvatore (Luigi Lo Cascio), a blacksmith by trade, leaving family behind to work the coal mines in Belgium. A year later, missing his kids and worried if his wife Ida (Donatella Finocchiaro) might be having an affair, Salvatore asks his family to join him. When they arrive, Ida could hardly conceal her disappointment after seeing the ramshackle tenement they’ll be living in.
Growing up in a Belgian industrial town, young Rocco (Cristiaan Campagna, Matteo Simoni) realises that he will always be seen by locals as someone different, a foreigner who does not belong there, and the local greengrocer isn’t any exception, whose blonde daughter he’d already begun to fancy.
Rocco also has a passion for music, and spends most of his spare time practising with his accordion. Rocco’s father – he had to sacrifice his own musical ambitions in order to feed his family, urges him to pursue music only as a hobby.
The grocer’s daughter Helena (Evelien Bosmans), upon whom Rocco has had a crush since childhood, had now grown into an attractive young lady, and during a conversation urges him to participate in a talent show.
Success in the show will help him form a travelling band, with which he’ll perform in clubs and various events until he gets ‘discovered’ by a music producer. His first album will soon top the charts in Belgium, several European countries, and later America, launching him into a long and successful career in music.
As mainstream films go, this is not a bad one at all, and it contains some decent production values too – the mainly Italian cast give a fine account of themselves. A good chunk of the film is particularly focused on the xenophobia and discrimination prevalent in Belgium at the time, which while no different from any other part of the world during the fifties, will nevertheless remind audiences of modern day parallels when it comes to immigration and integration. Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Evelien Bosmans and Matteo Simoni
There’s brief nudity during a single scene between the characters played by Evelien Bosmans (Helena) and Matteo Simoni (Rocco). They make out on top of a barge after getting their clothes wet during a frolic. They’re interrupted by Rocco’s musician-pal who’d come to pick him up for their first studio recording. Helena is momentarily left standing naked on top of the barge after Rocco runs off to join his friend.