Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Italy/France/United Kingdom/Germany, 2001. Euripide Productions, Integral Film, Veradia Film, France 3 Cinéma, Axiom Films, Seven Stars System, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Arte, Tele+, Canal+, Sofica France Télévision Images, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Filmförderungsanstalt. Libretto by Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa, from the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou. Cinematography by Romain Winding. Produced by Daniel Toscan du Plantier. Music by Antonio Pappano. Production Design by Sylvaine Chauvelot. Costume Design by Christian Gasc. Film Editing by Luc Barnier.
Sumptuously shot and beautifully scored film version of Puccini’s grand opera just can’t get together enough energy to be interesting. Real-life couple Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna sing splendidly in the lead roles, and the sets have been designed to be as grand and theatrical as possible, but with few scene changes and a lack of ingenuity in camera angles the film is oppressively boring. Benoit Jacquot, one of France’s most mature and accomplished directors, fails to find the clever subtleties that the story could offer, instead bombarding the audience’s ears with the (albeit beautiful) music and giving us nothing else to devour. In an attempt to open up the project, Jacquot also filmed the singers in black and white recording the soundtrack in the studio, plus took a video camera around Italy and filmed its many gardens and old palaces. Unfortunately, he uses these two narrative breaks very sparingly, to the point of uselessness, rendering them a curiousity and little more. Only for die-hard opera fans.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2001