Valeria Golino’s Miele, a debut effort, opened a special launch of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2013. Featuring a topical storyline about end of life decision-making and euthanasia, this is an intriguing plot that follows a woman named Irene (Jasmine Trinca) who assists people with terminal illness by alleviating their suffering through death.
Trouble looms however when Irene, who goes by the alias of Miele (Honey) when on the job, gives life-ending medication to elderly gentleman Carlo Grimaldi (Carlo Cecchi). It turns out that Grimaldi is actually perfectly healthy in the physical sense – Irene mistakenly assumed he had a terminal condition. Unwilling to kill a fit individual, Irene demands the return of the medication. Grimaldi’s refusal brings to light a discussion of the rights of the terminally ill versus those who are merely mentally ill.
It’s interesting stuff to be sure, and as Irene grows closer to Grimaldi she questions the morality of her life and actions (a client of hers dubs it the worst job in the world). There’s certainly plenty to ponder at the film’s conclusion, but it’s mostly stimulating by virtue of the fact that it’s drawing on subject matter that already exists as a hot topic. The subplots don’t really go anywhere and distract from the film’s pacing, and Golino is perhaps a tad too experimental at times, too eager to impress with the abstract rather than assured and steady filmmaking – although the use of sound and music is quite inspired. It’s a curious effort, a little messy maybe but poignant all the same, and clearly driven by the passion of those involved.