L'amore Molesto

Starring: Anna Bonaiuto, Angela Luce, Gianni Cajafa and Peppe Lanzetta
Arrow Films
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 28 May 2007

Delia works as a graphic artist. On the day of her birthday she receives a series of worryingly bizarre telephone calls from her mother, Amalia, who is found dead the next day, washed up in the bay. With Amalia having apparently committed suicide, her daughter Delia embarks on a journey to understand why her mother would do such a thing. Through encounters, with her mother's lover and her own father, Delia must face the truth of her relationship with her mother and how her own childhood lie brought devastating consequences...

L'Amore Molesto (1995) was directed by Mario Martone and adapted by Martone and Elena Ferrante, from Ferrante's original novel. The film won three David Donatello Awards for best director, best actress and best supporting actress and was nominated for a Golden Palm for best director. It also won a best actress award for Anna Bonaiuto from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. So that there is no misunderstanding "L'amore Molesto" translates as "troublesome love" and nothing more dubious than that.

The film is usually considered to be a thriller, though in reality it has more elements of a psychodrama, with more than a nod to Hitchcock. Of course, Delia's central conceit that she is investigating what looks like her mother's murder is really an investigation into her own relationship with her. Delia, although initially portrayed as the loving victim, quickly has to come to terms with the fact that she did not like her mother. She goes to great lengths not to resemble her and following her death, when she finds that her seventy year old mother has red sexy underwear, she is physically sick at the thought.

In her journey through Naples and her mother's life Delia is surrounded by the omnipresent city, which is, itself, a character in the movie. Its noise and oppressive architecture leaves little time for rest or contemplation. Anna Bonaiuto plays Delia with utter conviction and I have to admit to being riveted by the film from start to finish.

The movie is presented in two time frames with wonderful sepia like flashbacks that, along with the contemporary story, slowly brings Delia nearer to the truth about her mother's, and her own, life. The scars of the physical and implied sexual abuse of her mother, by her father, with the complicity of other family members, who would then go on to paint her as beautiful, run deep in Delia. In the end it is these formative years that she has to accept have defined her as a woman. In many ways Delia has been running from the notion that she is just as flawed as her mother.

The film is presented in 4:3 letterbox, with a nice clean print. Audio is stereo, Italian with the option of English subtitles.

This is a gripping film of one woman's journey to self enlightenment and at this price it's a steal.

Charles Packer

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