Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Giancarlo Giannini, Laura Antonelli, Jennifer O'Neill, Rina Morelli, Massimo Girotti, Didier Haudepin, Marie Dubois, Roberta Paladini, Claude Mann, Marc Porel
Written by: Suso Cecchi D'Amico, Enrico Medioli, Luchino Visconti, based on a novel by Gabriele D'Annunzio
Directed by: Luchino Visconti
MPAA Rating: R
Language: Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 129
Date: 07/17/2020
IMDB

L'Innocente (1976)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Aristocracy in Love

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Luchino Visconti's final film L'Innocente begins with the director's own aged hand turning the pages of a weathered copy of Gabriele D'Annunzio's novel. From there it goes into another of his elegantly composed portraits of the follies of the aristocracy, perhaps not among his very best films, but still a fine film from an absolute master. Giancarlo Giannini (Seven Beauties, Casino Royale) stars as Tullio, who is married to the sensible Giuliana (Laura Antonelli, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs) and is having an affair with the more sensual Teresa (Jennifer O'Neill, Rio Lobo, Scanners). But when Giuliana has an affair of her own with a successful author, Tullio suddenly wants her back. And so it goes, in a bitter satire of "wanting-only-what-one-can't-have." Things take a turn when Giuliana winds up pregnant by the author; the couple decide to try and raise the child as their own, but hurt feelings get in the way, leading to a horrific act.

Pauline Kael noted that the film's first half is more playful than the second half, and guessed that, because Visconti was ill while shooting, and did not supervise the final editing, perhaps others botched the mood of the second half. She may have a point, but the movie still works. Visconti's mise-en-scene is glorious, opulent, with more space than the characters know what to do with. Several scenes take place at a polite gathering where attendees sit quietly and listen to pianists, but that's where the most heated drama happens for Tullio, ferociously whispering and interrupting the music. In a strikingly visual, haunting moment, Giuliana asks Tullio to help pin a veil over her face, and he becomes an accomplice in a death-like gesture. Finally, because he wants it all, and considers himself above paying any kind of price for anything, Tullio winds up with nothing.

Film Movement released L'Innocente on a 2020 Blu-ray edition, with a luxurious new transfer. It includes a video essay by author Ivo Blom, and a liner notes essay by author Dan Callahan.

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