Nelo Risi clearly put his heart into DIARY OF A SCHIZOPHRENIC GIRL, a realistic and occasionally moving portrait of a disturbed young woman. Though given a (mini)-major release (via Allied Artists) in the U.S., the film has since fallen into obscurity, probably because it did not feature the exploitation elements which have become so fashionable (in a retro sense) in recent years.
Ghislane D'Orsay, apparently a French actress in this one-shot role, is beautiful, fragile and very convincing in the title role, ably matched by Margarita Lozano as her doctor/caregiver. The format closely resembles THE MIRACLE WORKER, though without the dramatic extremes of that classic play and film. Instead Risi is going for a slice of life approach, perhaps dull at times but wholly serious in tone.
As the ups and mainly downs of D'Orsay's illness are charted the film remains unpredictable in the sense that she seems to recover for lengthy periods, moving from near-catatonic state to fully functional, moving around out in public in a busy cityscape. Overall I found the film quite moving due to its subtlety.
Risi was an extremely pretentious director, and I enjoyed his abstract exercise starring Jean Seberg titled DEAD OF SUMMER, made after this more famous title. Apparently he overreached and did a couple of big-deal flops, not on the level of Cimino's HEAVEN'S GATE but still lofty enough to ruin his career -and I have searched in vain for decades to see either one of them: A SEASON IN HELL (same subject as Leo DiCaprio's TOTAL ECLIPSE) and THE INFAMOUS COLUMN, latter an adaptation of a novel by Alessandro Manzoni, one of Italy's first novelists.
I guess I remain in the minority - I would rather see a failed film by someone who tries too hard, instead of one of the hundreds of miscellaneous titles currently so popular from the prolific genre segment of European Cinema, c.f., D'Amato, Franco, Martino. As far as availability goes, Gresham's Law remains in full force.
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