Yen Tan's "Ciao" is a revelation, a minimalist work of maximum effect. It is determinedly understated and consistently expressive, beautifully composed yet never studied.
In the process of filming Yen discovered, as had the Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu long ago, the power of holding a shot after his actors had exited a scene to evoke a sense of longing and loss. It's a feeling key to the slender but complex story Yen has to tell.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, December 27, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
'Ciao': A review of the film "Ciao" in Friday's Calendar section said it was playing at the Regent Showcase in Los Angeles. The movie is playing at Laemmle's Sunset 5, 8000 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500.
Jeff (Adam Neal Smith), a Dallas financial planner in his 30s, is coping with the loss of his best friend Mark, who has been killed in a car accident.
Going through Mark's e-mail, he discovers that Mark had met a man online, Andrea (Alessandro Calza), who collaborated with Yen on the script), a graphic designer living in Genoa, Italy.
They connected sufficiently for Andrea, due to fly to New York for a wedding, to add a brief detour to Dallas for a visit. Wanting to know more about Mark, Andrea decides to proceed with his plans, and during the trip he learns of Jeff's unrequited love for his departed friend.
A shared sense of loss -- for Andrea, what might have been; for Jeff, what he wanted but could never have -- draw the men closer. Yen appreciates the value of a special rapport and the possibilities it holds.
MPAA rating: R for language, including sexual references
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Playing: Regent Showcase, 614 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 934-1770