It’s only natural for someone to look back at their life the older they get; a time of reflection, missed opportunities perhaps, as well as reminiscing over friendships that have long since passed.

For Italian director Mario Martone’s latest film, he not only places that sense of walking down memory lane at the heart of him, he even named it after it.

boom reviews Nostalgia
Paulo was disappointed the Pope's first ever stand up date had sold out completely.

Having been away from his homeland of Italy for over forty years now, Felice (Pierfrancesco Favino) decides now is the time to return to his home in Naples and visit his elderly mother.

And although his mother is older, the city itself has changed little.

The time spent there reminds him of his childhood, behaving somewhat badly on the streets with his best friend. In fact it was some trouble the pair of them got into that sent Felice on his travels, never to return until now.

He learns that his friend Oreste (Tommaso Ragno) still lives in the city, but he has become a man feared by most of the community. Despite his criminal status, he feels he can still reach out to him, but it’s a risk, as there’s no way that he will feel the same way about their past as Felice does.

boom reviews Nostalgia
So i'm thinking of setting up a nice little roof-top cafe up here.

When it comes to the emotion in the film’s title, Martone’s feature nails it. It’s something that not only can’t its lead protagonist get away from, but warmly embraces. He’s been away for so long, he’s lost all concept of what home is.

To reinforce the memories, Martone shoots flashbacks to when they were both young, in the equivalent to a retro filter, changing the colour of the film as well as the screen ratio. It’s a little obvious, but still cute.

It’s a slow burner of a film, with the onus on Felice absorbing everything he once new about the city he grew up in. There’s also the development of a new relationship, that of man of the cloth Luigi, who runs the local church and encourages the youth to stay on the right side of the law. He certainly comes across as the head of a serious organisation, winning the respect of all those he comes in contact with, so it’s no surprise that he’s referred to as ‘don’ throughout, a term often used in terms of the head of a mafia family.

It’s a ponderous journey but Favino’s warm and gentle performance makes it worthwhile. We grow to see why this trip back home means so much to him, a true sense of belonging that he clings onto.

The finale feels rushed, purposefully so, that could leave you feeling a number of emotions, but have no doubt that’s exactly how the director wants you to feel.

We’re usually of the mind that nostalgia is often overrated, but not in this case, as Martone’s film delves into a past hoping for answers, only to be confronted with ones no one wants to hear.

we give this three out of five