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Lawrence, A. (1996). Il Postino. Psychoanal. Rev., 83(4):630-633.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Review, 83(4):630-633

Il Postino

Amy Lawrence, Ph.D.

One of the last shots of Il Postino (The Postman, 1995) is a close-up of the actor Philippe Noiret. As Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, Noiret has just learned that his friend, a simple local Italian postman, has died. Pausing on the beach where he first taught his friend about poetry, Neruda stares blankly ahead, contemplating the past, the power of memory, the insistence of absence, poetry's power to transform life, and its power to take it.

Despite being one of Europe's best actors, Noiret's performance of loss is as ephemeral as the powder on his face, the sentimentality of the fiction unable to withstand the proof of mortality pressing upon it. But even before its surprisingly melancholy end, the film has been subjected to a double reading, every aspect redefined in relation to the true story of the film's star, Massimo Troisi.

While the film's advertising (commercials, trailers, posters, newspaper ads) tried initially to position it as a comic love story, the dominant perspective through which the film's reception has been filtered is a tale of loss. Suffering from heart disease, actor-writer Massimo Troisi postponed an operation until after filming was completed. Troisi died in his sleep at his sister's house mere hours after shooting his last scene.1


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