The son of the owner of a large Italian cheese factory is kidnapped, but as the factory is on the verge of bankruptcy the owner hatches a plan to use the ransom money as reinvestment in the... See full summary »
Bernardo Bertolucci, along with co-scenarist Gianni Amico, used Dostoievski's 1846, pre-imprisonment novella The Double: A Petersburg Poem, which they moved to Italy and updated to the pro-Vietcong student-protest present,
When an African dictator jails her husband, Shandurai goes into exile in Italy, studying medicine and keeping house for Mr. Kinsky, an eccentric English pianist and composer. She lives in one room of his Roman palazzo. He besieges her with flowers, gifts, and music, declaring passionately that he loves her, would go to Africa with her, would do anything for her. "What do you know of Africa?," she asks, then, in anguish, shouts, "Get my husband out of jail!" The rest of the film plays out the implications of this scene and leaves Shandurai with a choice.Written by
Bertolucci's lush photography is mirrored by the velvety performances of the two co-stars. There's nothing fancy here. The lighting, camera angles, and other directorial touches support and do not supplant a simple story of two people whose generosity prompts them to take important actions independently. It is Thandie Newton's movie all the way (for that matter, so was "Flirting" almost ten years ago, and she is grown up now, yet with still that wistful, girlish smile). But David Thewlis is quirky enouhg to be believable. The fairy tale works. Bravo, Bernardo!
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