Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:20 pm 
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Dissolving mystery

A little too poetic and meandering for a police procedural, Özpetek's new film takes him to new and rich Neapolitan locations, glamorous and romantic rather than seedy and gangsterish like in movies like Gomorrah. This is darker, sexier, and less conventionally social than the director's previous work. It seems a little shapeless for a whodunit, in addition to being resolutely apolitical, but it has an alluring mood. The plot line seems a little contrived, but makes an excellent framework for glamorous depictions of Naples and interpretations of its lore in this atmospheric and enjoyable film.

Adrianna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno of Muccino's 2001 The Last Kiss and Özpotek's 2003 Facing Windows) meets Andrea (hot new Italian actor Alessandro Borghi) at a party given by one of her friends, and they have an incredible night of love - more graphically depicted than sex in any of Özpetek's previous films. It can't end; they make a date to meet the next day, and she is thinking only of him, sleepy and musing on sex as she goes to a museum of antique sculptures (more bodies). He doesn't turn up for the meeting there. Later she finds out why, when she reports to her work as an autopsy physician and he turns up as a corpse, found dead, definitively recognizable by the large tattoo on his groin.

The plot thickens when Andrea turns out to have a twin brother, Luca (also played by Borghi, of course), who first turns up appearing around town like a doppelgänger, and reports that he and his twin were separated at birth. Luca seems instantly as attracted to Adrianna as Andrea was. Or is he really Andrea, who has perhaps faked his own death? The fact that the corpse was blinded and disfigured suggests deception. The situation remains ambiguous.

Luca's presence might cause confusion, or attract the unknown killers of Andrea, so Adrianna keeps Luca concealed in her apartment, like a sex toy. Meanwhile she has spent quite a bi of time with Antonio (Biagio Forestieri), a police detective on the murder case who quite clearly is becoming enamored of her, despite coming from a less sophisticated milieu than hers.

Even though the ending is inconclusive and unsatisfying (Deborah Young in her Hollywood Reporter review calls it "arty and ambiguous"), Özpetek seems in exceptionally good form here, bolder and more fluent than usual.The cinematography by Gian Filippo Corticell, featuring location choices that include what Young calls "a maze of gleaming, crisscrossing escalators out of an Escher drawing," as well as the striking but perhaps familiar "eye-popping helicoid stairwell which the camera turns into the shape of an eye," and very modern looking interiors, baroque Neapolitan landmarks. All this may be a little distracting, but it also all adds to the deep, lush sense of atmosphere different from Özpetek's usual brighter more everyday Roman settings. Naples definitely is in a sense the protagonist here, felt to be both revealing and hiding her secrets, as the film title indicates.

Naples in Veils/Napoli velata,90 mins., was theatrically released in Italy 28 Dec. 2017; Moscow film festival. Screened for this release as part of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema.

showtime (Walter Reade Theater):
Saturday, June 2, 8:30pm
Q&A with Ferzan Ozpetek

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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