Respiro, the second film from writer-director Emanuele Crialese, opens with a series of scenes suggesting that if civilization hasn't collapsed, it's at least gotten a little rough around the edges. Boys create sand traps for small birds, then roast them on spits. They attack their moped-riding rivals and force them to walk home nude. Later, they trade fish thrown from a passing boat for tickets at a small-scale lottery conducted by a street merchant. But civilization hasn't collapsed on Lampedusa, the small Mediterranean fishing island that serves as Respiro's setting–it's just taken a form that's never cottoned to certain modern niceties. Crialese's lyrically observant film approaches its setting with a respect for its oddness, an eye for its beauty, and a keen sense of what's universal even in its singularity. The action centers on a family troubled by the wild mood swings of mother Valeria Golino, who spends one day sulking in her room, the next inviting her uncomfortable sons to join her for a nude swim. Francesco Casisa plays the oldest of the boys, a thoughtful adolescent not above the casual violence that the teen culture seems to demand. Filippo Pucillo provides the film's funniest moments as the younger son, whose attempts at swaggering machismo are continually undone by the prepubescent package that contains it. Respiro takes its time (though it doesn't suffer for the time it takes), but eventually a plot emerges, as the village grows uncomfortable with Golino's behavior and indirectly drives her into exile, then begins to regret it. Respiro was inspired by a local legend, and while the film's first half belongs to such unfamiliar details of Lampedusa life as cliff-top courtships and fishing-economy gender roles, its second half belongs to the realm of folklore and myth, as Golino's husband (Vincenzo Amato) despondently searches for his lost wife. There are loose ends aplenty as Crialese switches from neo-realist observation to a more elemental mode, and, like the village itself, Respiro never quite makes up its mind about Golino. But the film's generous spirit, disarming mixture of beauty and brutality, and gentle, insistent sweep make it easy to surrender to it anyway.