Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Italy/France/United Kingdom, 1996. Fiction Films, France 2 Cinéma, Jeremy Thomas Productions, Recorded Picture Company, Union Générale Cinématographique. Story by Bernardo Bertolucci, Screenplay by Susan Minot. Cinematography by Darius Khondji. Produced by Jeremy Thomas. Music by Richard Hartley. Production Design by Gianni Silvestri. Costume Design by Louise Stjernsward. Film Editing by Pietro Scalia. Cannes Film Festival 1996.
Liv Tyler plays a young woman travelling to the Italian countryside to unlock some of the mysteries she feels are left unexplained by her late mother’s journals. She meets a colourful assortment of individuals, the best of them played by Jeremy Irons (in his finest performance since Reversal Of Fortune) as an ailing neighbour who befriends the girl, and his real-life wife Sinéad Cusack as one of their group of friends. Friends and lovers seduce her one way or the other until she finally feels she is ready to give up her (gasp) virginity and become a woman. It’s not as Harlequin-esque as it sounds, it’s actually quite delicate and charming, and photographed so beautifully. Features an early performance by Joseph Fiennes.