Massimo Troisi received his only acting nomination, a posthumous one, for portraying Mario Ruoppolo in The Postman.
Massimo Troisi performance here is that of a rather simple man, who is of rather simple desires. He wants love, and thinks the poet Pablo Neruda can possibly give it to him so he befriends him in an attempt to find the secret of his poetry. He does befriend Neruda, and does find the love through a waitress in his village.
Troisi portrays his part in an exceedingly low key fashion, too low key, to tell you the truth. He is almost always this rather calm, soft spoken fellow throughout almost the whole film. This whole approach never became very interesting for me, and I always frankly wanted a little more energy in his performance, but he never gives it.
Troisi although never is precisely bad as Mario, but his performance just always feels a little too little to me. He never is particularly charming, the only charm that comes from him is the charm of extreme modesty, but for a film I find that charm is tad dull.
Troisi really never creates any interesting relationships with either his romance or Neruda. I never really felt a rush out of any scene that he is in, because he never stops being so overly low key in his performance. Now do not get me wrong, someone can be low key, but they need to suggest more about their character than Troisi ever does, if they are going to be this low key.
Troisi failed to ever really bring me into Mario's whole adventure with Neruda, or his romance, it all just seemed to be there because of how lightly Troisi treats the whole affair. It is true later on he becomes sad at times and such, but still it never really brings out an emotional force, like say another low key performance like Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies.
This performance honestly just sort of bores me. He never really created the right empathy for Mario, nor the right energy. It is just too much of the same for the entire performance, with only minute variations throughout, despite the fact that his character is suppose to change due to Neruda's influence. This is not an awful performance by any measure but it is an entirely uneventful one.