Italy | Spain 2018
Opening November 7, 2019
Directed by: Michel Soavi
Writing credits: Nicola Guaglianone
Principal actors: Paola Cortellesi, Stefano Fresi, Fausto Maria Sciarappa
Paola (Paola Cortellesi) teaches a class of probably 10-year-olds. Giacomo (Fausto Maris Sciarappa) is in love with her and plans to propose. Marriage would be difficult because, unknown to Giacomo, every night from midnight to eight in the morning Paola turns into her original self: Befana, a witch several centuries old. She’s not just any witch, but one who is active during the Christmas season, when, at midnight, she climbs onto her broom and delivers presents to all the well-behaved kids and unusual surprises to the bad kids. Her greatest competition is, of course, Santa Claus, whom she dislikes. Why should Santa get to fly around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, while she has to carry loads of presents on her back, in spite of extreme old age with all the accompanying deficits such as arthritis. Six children in her class are suspicious about their nice young teacher and investigate. They discover her second identity (which she describes as “working undercover”) and observe. Thus they witness the kidnapping of Befana/Paola by Mr. Johnny (Stefano Fresi), a young man who makes toys. He seeks revenge because Befana forgot him when he was a child, leaving him without any Christmas presents. They must recuse her!
I enjoyed the double role played by Cortellesi, especially her big nose as a witch. No need to get serious and talk about any morals of the story (loyalty, responsibility, friendship, etc.). Just sit back and have fun with the whole family, age six and older. (Becky T.)