Directed by Ferzan Ozpetek, starring Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Massimo Girotti, Raoul Bova, Filippo Nigro, Serra Yilmaz, Maria Grazia Bon, Massimo Poggio and Ivan Bacchi.

'Facing Windows' is a delicate film that makes for intriguing viewing as it glides through its various storylines along an alternating timeline. While somewhat predictable, it is very watchable, tugging at the heart strings with the kind of human dilemmas and temptations that we all face from time to time.

It is a captivating tale of complicated lives, set in Rome between 1943 and the present day. Beginning with the story of a seemingly terrified apprentice chef (Poggio) who murders his boss, the story leaves the baker boy and jumps forward to present day Rome and into the family of Giovanna (Mezzogiorno) and Filippo (Nigro), who have hit a rough patch in their marriage.

Tired of always being the sensible one and working two jobs to make ends meet, while her husband works the nightshift, Giovanna is a tired housewife, yearning for some sort of escape from her mundane life. Often she finds her release gazing from her kitchen window into the apartment across the street where handsome bachelor Lorenzo (Bova) leads his sophisticated life.

Having never met, the pair gaze at each other from across the street, avoiding eye contact, sneaking glances and becoming fascinated by each other's lives. When Giovanna's husband Filippo brings home a confused old man (Girotti) that he finds roaming the streets, it is the last straw for his already frustrated wife, but in spite of her anger, she cannot help but be intrigued by the old man and his mysterious past.

As the man's extraordinary life story unfolds through a series of clues, Giovanna is drawn into secret liaisons with her attractive neighbour, craving more and more a different life for herself. But the old man's story is not what it first seemed as we sporadically cut back to 1943 to piece together the story of who the mystery man really is and what has caused his decline into the deeply troubled old man that we first meet wandering the streets.

Giovanna Mezzogiorno wonderfully portrays the lonely housewife stuck in a rut, aching for adventure in her life, yet remorseful as soon as she dares to stray outside her boundaries. Her expression and character are faultless. Massimo Girotti too aptly illuminates the character of the old man, tortured by his past.

While the story is neither bursting with originality nor entirely unpredictable, there is a beauty in its telling that really engages the viewer. A lovely way to pass an afternoon.

Linda McGee