Friday, March 21, 2008

Obsession


Ossessione; Drama, Italy, 1942; D: Luchino Visconti, S: Massimo Girotti, Clara Calamai, Juan De Landa, Dhia Cristiani, Elio Marcuzzo

Wandering tramp Gino is traveling in a truck. When he gets thrown out, he comes to an isolated restaurant where he gets a job by the owner, who is also a singer. There Gino falls in love with the owner's wife Giovanna. She constantly tells him how she loves him and hates her husband. Gino leaves the restaurant and meets and old friend in the train. He gives him a job but Gino once again meets Giovanna and her husband in the city. When the husband gets drunk, they use the chance and kill him, setting it up as an car accident. The police investigates the case and the couple becomes nervous in the restaurant. Due to bad conscience, Gino leaves her, but returns after he finds out she is pregnant. The car turns over and Giovanna dies in an accident.

"Obsession", the directorial debut of the famous Luchino Visconti, is an illegal adaptation of J.M. Cain's novel "The Postman Always Rings Twice" that shocked the audience back in 1942 with it's nihilism and realism. But despite an enormous pessimism, Visconti still has some kind of an unexplainable motherly care for his touching tragic heroes. The main protagonist is the jobless, homeless Gino, and the director immediately describes his counter partner, Giovanna, in the scene where he pays for his food in the restaurant, but she hides his money and tells the owner he didn't, in order to keep him close since he will have to repay his debt by doing numerous jobs around her place. That little detail sums pretty much everything there is to be said about her. This unusual film present a desperate Femme Fatale who wants to escape her life and thus says monologues like these: "You don't know how it is to be a young woman with an old husband. Every time he touches me with his greasy fingers I want to scream!" or "Gino, I'm pregnant. From now on my breasts will become larger every day". Not your typical 1940's lines, or even today. A virtuoso directed neorealist thriller-drama about obsession, lust and manipulation, where the romantic touch was actually wonderfully infiltrated into the dark story as a whole.

Grade:+++

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