Don't Move


Reviewed by: Gary Duncan

This harrowing drama from actor/director Sergio Castellitto packs a punch from the opening scene and never lets up. A 15-year-old girl lies unconscious on the road in the pouring rain, her scooter mangled, her head split wide open. She's rushed to the nearest hospital, the same hospital where her surgeon father Timoteo (Castellitto) works. As his daughter goes under the knife, the seemingly mild-mannered Timoteo paces the corridor and reflects on his less than wholesome past - his lies, his empty marriage and his train wreck of an affair with the destitute Italia (Penelope Cruz), a damaged soul he used and abused, but ultimately fell in love with many years earlier.

This is Castellitto's film - he also co-wrote the screenplay and appears in almost every scene - but it's Cruz who really stands out, perfectly capturing the little-girl-lost innocence of Italia, yet giving her the inner steel of a survivor, someone who's been dumped on all her life but is still around to give two fingers to the world. Cruz has never been better, or, thanks to the folks in make-up, less glamorous. With her flaky skin, bad teeth and straggly hair, she's almost unrecognisable.

Timoteo and Italia are an unlikely couple - successful surgeons don't date white-trash nobodies - but Castellitto and novelist Margaret Mazzantini's sensitive script makes their affair utterly believable. Timoteo has a beautiful wife who loves him and a dream house by the sea, but he also has the look of a man who isn't really there. You can see it in his eyes, in his slouch, in his crumpled clothes. He's on autopilot, waiting for something to happen. And then it does - he meets Italia.

It occurs by chance in a scuzzy bar on the wrong side of town on a hot summer's day. Timoteo's car has broken down and Italia takes him back to her place, a filthy shack with peeling walls and swarming flies, so he can call his wife. Timoteo, however, helps himself to more than her phone.

Their relationship is all about sex to begin with - sweaty, selfish, violent sex. Timoteo takes what he wants and then leaves. He gives her some money, which she puts in a jar but doesn't spend. Next time, after they're done, she offers to make him spaghetti. He stays, they eat, they talk and something changes. It's not just sex anymore.

It remains an odd relationship, however. Timoteo asks why she cut her hair - the straggle has been replaced with a close crop - and she replies, matter of fact, "I got lice." Timoteo nods, as if it's the most natural thing in the world.

It all ends in tears, of course. It's that kind of film. Even the soundtrack is suitably morose, featuring the likes of Leonard Cohen and Terence Trent D'Arby. It's bleak and it's sometimes difficult to watch, but it's also beautiful and strangely uplifting.

Reviewed on: 13 Feb 2005
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A successful surgeon has a passionate, destructive affair with a girl from the scuzzy side of town.
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Director: Sergio Castellitto

Writer: Sergio Castellitto and Margaret Mazzantini, based on the novel by Margaret Mazzantini

Starring: Sergio Castellitto, Penelope Cruz, Claudia Gereni, Elena Perino, Marco Giallini

Year: 2004

Runtime: 125 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Italy/Spain/UK


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