La Sconosciuta: The Unknown Woman
Ah the trust we give so fully, so completely to people who work for us though we know so little about them. In his newest film, The Unknown Woman – a story of mystery and love, writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore of Cinema Paradise fame, once again is joined by the composer, Ennio Morricone and actress, Xenia Rappoport as the heroine in a most unusual "film noir".
Cunning, calculating, vicious, abused and ever-resourceful, Ms. Rappoport, as Irina, creates a character we will not soon forget in a setting which Mr. Tornatore films with his sharp, determined eye, clearly delineating each step along the way. Abbreviated cuts which flash before our eyes help tell the story of Irina's cruel and sordid past. And when necessary, close ups and a lingering camera look in on her to help assuage the anger of an irate audience into more compassion for her. Fabio Zamarion's expert photography zeroes in on faces, expressing so much pain, relief, satisfaction and joy but the overriding sense of mystery and fury lingers during those flashbacks of terror in Irina's past.
Child actress Clara Dossena in her first film appearance, is absolutely sensational as Tea. Her alternate looks of satisfaction, pain and frustration are totally priceless for she will be bounced and trounced in Irina's attempt to help build her confidence to stand up and fight her schoolyard bullies.
Tea's mother, Valeria, played astutely by Claudia Gerini and father Donato, played by Pierfrancesco Favino, display the sort of love-distanced relationship so often seen by couples wealthy enough to have a nanny while attending to a most busy, harried life of their own. Money, important positions and a regular schedule can often get in the way of proper parenting or the time to spend with your child; hence a nanny to occupy your space and time. In this case, the nanny is there, having removed the previous nanny in a most purposeful "accident".
The Unknown Woman bears all the marks of excellence in every department of filmmaking and the haunting terror it evinces will keep you glued to your seat. It's raw and tender, all at the same time. This one is a winner!
Opening March, 2008, In Italian with English subtitles