Film Review – Pinocchio (2019)

Following the outstanding reception received from critics following screenings on the festival circuit and its theatrical release in July, Garrone’s live-action telling of the beloved classic Pinocchio story captured the imagination of audiences across the country. Vertigo Releasing is delighted to announce the Home Entertainment release of PINOCCHIO, available on digital from December 7, and on DVD from December 14, 2020.


PINOCCHIO tells the tale of an old woodcarver named Gepetto (Roberto Benigni) who creates a puppet, which then magically comes to life. Gepetto names him Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi) and brings him up as his son. Pinocchio, however, finds it hard to be good and is easily led astray. He ends up stumbling from one misadventure to another – whether in the belly of a giant fish, in the Land of Toys or in the Field of Miracles. It is up to his loyal friend the Fairy (Marine Vacth) to help him see that his dream of becoming a real boy is only possible if he finally changes his ways.


Pinocchio is a live-action film which is closely based on the book rather than a more light-hearted film you may have seen. It reminds me of how the Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales rather than how Hollywood has made them more child-friendly!

The film is set in an Italian village and has a lovely authentic feel to it – well as authentic as a talking wooden puppet can be.

I am not convinced this is a film for younger children for various reasons, not least of all due to a possessed piece of wood being carved into a boy and the hideous scene with the drowning of a donkey!

Related: Film Review Pinocchio (2019) | Second Opinion | Video Interview Matteo Garrone

Pinocchio shows his mischievous side as soon as he can walk by running away, and when Jiminy Cricket shows up to point out his ways, Pinocchio throws a hammer at him. This action kills the cricket in the book, but he doesn’t quite manage that in this version of the film, even though he hits him in the head, but it does show what sort of boy Pinocchio is!

He is not nice! He’s disobedient, naughty, runs off, tells lies, is rude and is so easily led. Not much to love about him at this stage.

Being live-action the other creatures that Pinocchio comes across on his travels such as the Fox and Cat are played by actors, my favourite being the Snail.

Pinocchio goes through quite some trauma on his travels. He didn’t intend to run away with the puppet show, but got caught up the other puppets at the circus and spends the rest of his time trying to get back home. He’s conned out of his coins by the Fox and Cat who hang him from a tree overnight! He’s turned into a donkey and as mentioned above, when he becomes lame, they throw a rock in the sea and you watch as the donkey get pulled off the cliff, and he’s swallowed by a dogfish.

We know that he meets his father in the dogfish, his father is not a strong courageous man and would quite happily live in the fish! Pinocchio persuasions him to leave and they escape the dogfish and find refuge in a little run-down house.

Pinocchio goes in search of work, and finally becomes the loving son, looking after his father and earning his keep. This is seen by the fairy and Pinocchio is finally rewarded with being a real boy.

If you have not read the classic this may come as quite a surprise as to how naughty and how dark this story is.

Fantasy, Fairy tale, Family | Italy, 2019 | PG | Vertigo Releasing | Digital , DVD |  14th December 2020 (UK) | Dir. Matteo Garrone | Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Marine Vacth, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini .