Naples In Veils

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Naples In Veils
"Seductive direction embarks on an ill-advised tryst with silly plotting in Ferzan Oztepek's Naples-set psycho-thriller"

Seductive direction embarks on an ill-advised tryst with silly plotting in Ferzan Oztepek's Naples-set psycho-thriller in the Brian de Palma style, about a woman's dangerous obsession. In fact, despite the end result being more ridiculous than riveting, you're likely to leave the cinema with renewed respect for just how much good direction can elevate even the most lacklustre genre story (although, Oztepek shares the dubious writing honours here too, with Gianni Romoli and Valia Santella).

Style is at the forefront from the off, with an image of an elliptical spiral staircase spinning as we watch. It's hypnotic and intriguing, drawing the viewer into the start of the film, which begins with the bang of a shotgun - a part of the story that won't be fully explained until close to the end.

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Giovanna Mezzogiorno - sporting red hair, perhaps to underline her character's passion and impetuousness, and certainly to blend beautifully with many of the film's lovingly chosen backdrops - plays Adrianna, a mortician who has a passionate one-night stand with a man she meets at her wealthy aunt's palatial home. Oztepek doesn't hold back in showing Adrianna's night of passion with Andrea (Alessandro Borghi), laying on the eroticism in spades in an extended sex scene. Her follow-up date, however, comes not in the museum they had planned, but in the morgue, when he turns up, eyeless, on her slab.

To add to her shock, the police are also involved, having found naked photos of her that Andrea took during their night of nookie - with one of them, Antonio (Biagio Forestieri), taking a shine to her. Worse still, she begins to think she is glimpsing Andrea on the street. All this is the sort of set-up that launched a thousand mysteries, although those who enjoy meaty conclusions to go with them, might be well advised to leave the cinema at this point and let the rest play out in their own imagination.

Those who stay, will be presented with familiar psychological ambiguity that surrounds "doubles" in this sort of film - and was also plumbed as a style exercise recently by Francois Ozon in L'Amant Double - but the characters remain under-nourished by a script that goes for look over feel every time and doesn't care enough about what really makes Adrianna and her family and friends tick.

Oztepek goes all in for full-fat, no-holds-barred passion and intrigue, as the grieving mortician's past also comes into play, while her present continues to disintegrate - but for all its style the substance remains as flimsy as the veils of the film's title. As the mystery begins to fall away and the symbolism stacks up, there's not enough emotional underpinning to fully warrant the journey.

Reviewed on: 01 Nov 2019
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Naples In Veils packshot
A woman whose lover is killed, begins to glimpse a man who looks like his doppelganger.

Festivals:

Valencia 2019

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