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Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch in a scene from "Twice Born"

3 out of 4 stars

Twice Born
Directed by
Sergio Castellitto
Emile Hirsch, Penelope Cruz
English, Bosnian, Italian

Early in this heavy, wide-screen romance, Emile Hirsch's wild-eyed photographer character tells his love interest (Penelope Cruz) that "the weirdest love stories are always the best ones." Twice Born, directed by the Italian actor Sergio Castellitto and set in the Balkan Wars in the 1990s, is not necessarily weird, but it is poetically intense and a whole bunch to take in. Told through the flashbacks of Cruz, the story is melodramatic, deeply layered and satisfying, though the chemistry between the star-crossed lovers never quite breaks the beaker.

Sept. 13, 9:30 p.m. Roy Thomson Hall; Sept. 14, 2:30 p.m., Elgin; Sept. 15, 3:30 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox

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