Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
Original title: La Bestia Nel Cuore
Italy/United Kingdom/France/Spain, 2005. Cattleya, Babe Film, Rai Cinema, Aquarius Films, Alquimia Cinema. Screenplay by Cristina Comencini, Francesca Marciano, Giulia Calenda, based on the novel by Cristina Comencini. Cinematography by Fabio Cianchetti. Produced by Marco Chimenz, Giovanni Stabilini, Riccardo Tozzi. Music by Franco Piersanti. Production Design by Paola Comencini. Costume Design by Antonella Berardi. Film Editing by Cecilia Zanuso.
Cristina Comencini adapts her own semi-autobiographical novel to film as screenwriter and director in this Italian drama. Giovanna Mezzogiorno is excellent as a soundtrack-dubbing artist who has agreed to marry her actor fiance and, soon after finding out she is pregnant, begins to have nightmares that feel like repressed memories of childhood. Unable to move on with either motherhood or marriage until she solves this mental mystery, Mezzogiorno travels all the way to Virginia where her brother is a professor, begging him to tell her what she doesn’t already know about her family. The secrets she uncovers are dark and unpleasant, and she finds herself possibly wishing she’d never opened the can of worms in the first place. The side plot, where two of Mezzogiorno’s friends find each other in her absence and become intimate, is less successful than the main story and feels wedged in just to thicken up the action. The plot feels like something torn from the day’s trashy soap opera offerings, but the strong dialogue and terrific performances elevate it above the level of sensationalism that it constantly threatens to hit.