Don't Move Review

Surgeon Timoteo (Sergio Castellitto) is called out on one of his operations by his co-worker Ada (Angela Finocchiaro) to be confronted with some bad news - his only child, Angela has had a motorcycle crash and is unlikely to last more than a day. As he stares out the window, Timoteo starts to think back to an affair he had almost two decades ago. As his car broke down in a suburb of Rome, he encountered Italia, a young waitress (Penelope Cruz) in a seedy bar. After a few drinks, the doctor finds himself in her house to call a mechanic. He impulsively rapes and abandons her to return to his wife, Elsa (Claudia Gerini). Over the next few weeks, he continues to return to abuse Italia. Eventually, a relationship of sorts forms between them and an affection takes root.

The whole premise of the film would be ludicrous if it wasn't so appalling: a man rapes a woman on a regular basis but after a few of these gruelling events, she suddenly realises she loves him and starts to enjoy it? Really? I'm unsure if many members of the audience are going to swallow that idea but what they may find even more irking it the relativising of Timoteo's actions. In fact, from that point on, the film seems either unwilling or unable to deal with the obvious moral dilemma it has created for itself - instead, it sticks to portraying the evolving relationship as a beautiful by-product of his morally indefensible actions, almost elevating it to the point of a religious experience. The lead character may preach that we are cruel at times but is this him making up another excuse or the position the film is trying to articulate - that life is about mistakes and misdemeanours and the important issue is getting over it? Maybe but Castellitto seems to leave little room for consequences or regret making the film an even more self-absorbed male perspective of life.

Despite this, the film exhibits quite a few redeeming qualities. The performances by both Castellitto and Cruz are good without being stunning but Gerini is somewhat miscast as the betrayed wife. Despite Castellitto's best efforts to make himself look younger (and Gerini older in certain scenes), the age difference between the actors is such that the couple seems too great to be fully plausible. Now, regarding Cruz: the make-up artists seem to have gone a bit heavy on the uglying up her character with bad teeth, heavy, patchy make up and threadbare clothing. Making stars look rough and tumble is a new trend (Kidman, Theron and Diaz have all given it a try in recent years) but this is possibly as far as I've seen it go and I'm not sure if fully serves the film beyond the obvious gasp of amazement seeing Cruz look like she's been simultaneously dragged backwards through the bushes, a make-up box and Oxfam.

Visually, the film's cinematography is quite literate but sometimes overplays its hand. The symbolism of the image becomes heavy-handed such as making Italia's house a small, decrepit residence on the brink of a modern development - no awards for subtlety there! - and the weather is also used far too regularly to establish the mood. Sam Mendes can just about pull it off but here it simply becomes irritating after the first hour. You don't have to be die-hard feminist to find parts of this film at best troubling - as a male viewer, I found it difficult to engage with and unevenly focused. Many critics have however found this to be a seminal piece of film-making - I personally will just have to disagree...

The DVD:

The image:
Nice tones emerge from the transfer with occasional appearances of aliasing. The original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is respected in a crisp, anamorphic transfer which shows few glitches or print damage. A good piece of work.

The sound:
Dialogue heavy, the soundtrack makes occasional used of the surrounds - the soundtrack comes through nicely with a good spectrum. The DTS track seems to be slightly superfluous but is good.

The subs:
Removable and clear, they have the annoying habit of not subtitling the soundtrack which is part 80s pop (as well as a Leonard Cohen tune) and Italian. I have the vague impression that the Italian songs underline certain themes (from my limited grasp of Italian) so should at least have been subtitled.

The extras

Unusually for a foreign film, there is a fair amount of extras lodged on the disc (though far from the 2 disc set from Italy). All of them are transferred in full-screen and are subtitled in English. Spoilers are contained in most so avoid them until you've watched the film...
First up we have the Deleted Scenes - 7 minutes of scenes that didn't make the cut. Most of them are extended cuts of certain scenes but one scene radically changes one aspect of the film. The author (Castellitto partner) waxes lyrical about him and everyone on the author's commentary which is set to behind the scenes footage (20 mins) - it's actually not too bad if you can bear the obvious bias she has in favour of her husband's effort. The Cruz interview (6 mins) follows suit with some more praise for Castellitto. She does also briefly touch on the controversy of the film but doesn't really go into much depth. More behind the scenes footage appears in the featurette (8 mins) which is a very much run-of-the-mill hard sell of the film. The Gallery and the trailer do what they say on the tin. The trailer interestingly tells you bugger all about the film beyond making it look very moody and rainy and that Penelope Cruz is going to look very rough in this effort and will be sniffing Castellitto's armpit.

Reactions to this film have been varied but it certainly did not click with me. The DVD presentation is very good and goes a step beyond what is usually expected from UK releases of European films.

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