13 January 2023.
L’IMMENSITA ***1/2 (vo Italian)
There’s no doubt about it, Penelope Cruz is not only an international star, but also a magnificent actress. In every one of her films, she entrances with her beauty but also with the soul she pours into the character she portrays.
And so it is with this intense film (set in Rome of the 70s) about a dysfunctional family in which the adolescent daughter (Luana Guiliani) insists on acting like and being a boy. Cruz, as the mother, takes it all with love and understanding, but it weighs heavily upon her. And the infidelity of her husband may be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back. In their slowly disintegrating marriage, Cruz’s character leans more and more on her three children. Under all the harrowing pressure, she finally needs to go away for rehabilitation, as something has broken in her.
The film feels like two stories, for there is the world of the adolescents, and then the oppressive life of the mother. There are beautiful scenes of complicity with the children and some painful ones with the elders of the family who are troubled by her eccentricities. There is one surrealistic, black and white scene in which Cruz plays a blond singer that well depicts her immense range of talent. It brought tears to my eyes.
This is a deeply heartfelt tale of complex emotions, directed by Emanuele Crialese of such films as “Respiro” and “Terraferma”. It’s a work that will stay with you.
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Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.
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