Daily Archives: July 5, 1996

Stealing Beauty

Stealing Beauty

After 15 years of filming abroad, Bernardo Bertolucci returns to Italy–albeit principally with English dialogue–to fashion a civilized, mellow, and generally graceful chamber piece that’s literary in a good sense. Written by novelist Susan Minot, this film tells the story of a young American (Liv Tyler), the daughter of a deceased poetess, who returns to a villa occupied by family friends in Tuscany hoping to lose her virginity and discover the identity of her father–two concerns the film regards as intimately intertwined. Switching from his usual standby cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro, to Darius Khondji (Seven), Bertolucci seems less rhetorical and more assured than usual; though this is a far cry from the rapturous lyricism of Before the Revolution, he seems to be working his way back toward the warmth of that picture, perhaps because for a change he’s dealing with a milieu he understands well. Though the film tapers off toward the end, the climactic scene of recognition between the heroine and her father is one of the most exquisite pieces of acting I’ve seen in ages. With Carlo Cecchi, Sinead Cusack, Jeremy Irons, Jean Marais, Donal McCann, D.W. Moffett, Stefania Sandrelli, and Rachel Weisz. Fine Arts, Evanston. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Still.… Read more »

Purple Noon

Purple Noon

A very elegant and watchable 1960 French thriller starring Alain Delon in his prime, this film was adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripely by director Rene Clement and Paul Gegauff, best known as Claude Chabrol’s key script collaborator in the 60s and 70s. The Hitchcockian theme–transference of personality–is given almost as much mileage here as in Hitchcock’s own Highsmith adaptation, Strangers on a Train, as Delon decides to take over the identity of a spoiled, wealthy playboy he’s been hired to bring home to his father. Henri Decae’s color cinematography is dazzling (though this print does it less than full justice), and the Italian and Mediterranean locations are sumptuous. With Marie Laforet, Maurice Ronet, and Playtime’s Bill Kearns. Fine Arts. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Still.… Read more »