I love Giovanna Mezzogiorno. She’s fierce and raw in her roles and reminds me of the old time Italian actresses like Anna Magnani in Mamma Roma. Her emotional scenes are gut-wrenching and sometimes so passionate they’re a little bit scary.
She made a stab at a Hollywood movie – just not a very good one -Love in the Time of Cholera, and I’d love to see her try again, but she’s had plenty of good roles in Italy. In La Finestra di Fronte (Facing Windows) her desperate race down the stairs to find a man she’d become infatuated with is one of my favorite movie scenes.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign film in 2006, Mezzogiorno’s La Bestia Nel Cuore (Don’t Tell) is another of her best. It’s the story of a young woman who has vague memories of sexual abuse and seeks out her brother, Andrea, in America to find the truth. Some of the reviews I’ve read of Don’t Tell unfairly complain that it’s just a mediocre movie about incest and lesbians, but that’s not the whole story and it’s hardly the point. I know that sometimes even I complain that Italian movies try to do too much and that storylines get confusing, but this time the extra characters aren’t confusing at all – they’re important.
This is not just the story of a victim of incest and it’s not about the usual quest for justice or campaign against sexual abuse. It’s about the consequences of it, the relationships that form in its shadow, and dynamics of a damaged family.
The elements of infidelity and homosexuality weren’t just thrown in, as they are in some movies. Director Cristina Comencini makes them very naturally part of Sabina’s attempts to know herself and separate her past from the present. And the lesbian story is – now what do you call it – comic relief? The insertion of things that are funny into such a serious topic is done really well and actually very welcome. And it’s not that homosexuality in itself is “funny” but the story of the women is very cute, and the women, played by Angela Finocchiaro and Stefania Rocca are wonderful, particularly Finocchiaro
Mezzogiorno and Luigi Lo Cascio.
And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Luigi Lo Cascio, who plays Andrea, is talented as always. He plays the wounded man with a reserved and measured calmness that only slowly reveals what he’s been going through.
One more thing; I think that the reason that this movie has been compared to Lifetime movies is that it just doesn’t look like a typical “foreign film”. The apartments are modern. The lesbians are wisecracking. And part of the movie takes place in Virginia in the US. It would seem like a Hollywood movie if they weren’t speaking Italian.
Don’t listen to the other reviewers – they all liked Splice. Listen to me – this is a good one.
Rent if from Netflix
Director: Cristina Comencini
Writers: Cristina Comencini (novel), Cristina Comencini (screenplay)
Stars: Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Luigi Lo Cascio and Alessio Boni