In this remake of the 1983 Ardiente Paciencia by Antonio Skarmeta, the time and place have been changed to Italy in the 1950s, but the relationship between the Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda and Mario (Massimo Troisi), the postman who delivers his copious mail, is still the focus of attention.
In this version of the story, scripted by a collective of Anna Pavignano, the director Michael Radford, Troisi himself, and a few others (based on Skarmeta's original story), Neruda is an aloof and slightly elitist figure who is seeking solitude on an island off the coast of Italy, taking a respite from political problems at home.
Mario is a poet at heart and employs every measure he is capable of inventing to win his way into the affections and attention of the great author. As his efforts start to bear fruit and Neruda unbends and begins to share conversation and philosophy with Mario, the postman idolizes the poet all the more.
Eventually, Neruda shares his leftist political philosophy as well -- and helps him win over the captivating Beatrice, the woman of Mario's dreams.
When Neruda leaves, Mario enters into high gear as he prepares material for the next time he sees Neruda -- his ardor and patience, alluded to in the original title -- are essentially indestructible. (Massimo Troisi) was fated never to know that Il Postino would receive worldwide acclaim and be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture in 1995 (the first foreign film nominated in that category since Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers 22 years earlier).
Suffering from a heart ailment and unable to work more than an hour or two on the filming of Il Postino each day, he died in his sleep at the age of 41, the day after shooting ended on the film.