"Passione" is a warm and passionate musical documentary about the Music of Naples, directed and hosted by the actor John Turturro. This is Bill Kurtis speaking for Roger Ebert. Turturro had never been to Italy until he went there for location shoots about a decade ago. He fell in love, especially with the music.
Filmed in the streets of Naples and with the people of Naples, this film doesn't have a single slick or cynical frame. It's a happy ramble through Naples with Turturro as our guide, not pretending to be an expert. It's more like having a good friend take you to this place he really loves.
There's none of the fake pop glitter spawned by "American Idol." The musicians are performing , yes, but they were also behaving--living their lives in song. Turturro devises small dramas for them to imply their histories and relationships.
"Passione" is far from a formal documentary. It's more of a musical meander. Some songs are shot like music videos. Others look like scenes from Neo Realism. Sometimes the musicians simply plant themselves in front of a microphone in a city square and perform for the camera.
In John Turturro's ideal world music is as much a part of life as speech. In his 2005 magical film "Romance and Cigarettes" the characters could walk out of a dramatic scene into the street and start to sing. There is real passion in "Passione," which is opening gradually around the country. Look for it!