Leonora, a prostitute, mourns the death by drowning years earlier of her daughter. She encounters a strange waif-like girl, Cenci, who bears a strong resemblance to her lost child. Cenci is herself struck by the great resemblance of Leonora to her own mother, whose death the mentally unstable Cenci has been unable to accept or even acknowledge. The two women quickly develop a symbiotic relationship, moving in and out of the illusion that each is the lost loved one of the other. The complicating factor is the arrival of Albert, Cenci's stepfather, whose incestuous attachment to her may well be the cause of her mind's unbalance. With Albert's arrival, no one in the strange trio is safe. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[Describing her attempted suicide, to Cenci]
"You'll be sorry when I'm dead, Bernard," I said to myself. "It may be a mortal sin, but it'll break your lousy heart, Bernard," I said to myself. I dressed up in all my finery, I even had my hair done up in curls. I set the table for two, with candles... and I swallowed every goddamned thing I could lay my hands on: aspirin, disprin, veganin, codeine, the lot. I lay down on the sofa, the music was playing, I drifted off down a cool river toward the ...
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"Secret Ceremony" was critically lambasted on its release - undeservedly so. Having come on the heels of another Elizabeth Taylor/Joseph Losey collaboration - the truly awful "Boom" - I suppose the critics were sharpening their knives again.
Admittedly, "Secret Ceremony" is probably an acquired taste. I first saw it on network TV in its mutilated form, with new non-Losey scenes filmed to supposed "explain" what was happening. Nevertheless, what remained of the original film was good enough that I sought out the uncut original.
The story is bizarre but consistently intriguing, and the Taylor/Farrow combination works. Taylor is very good in this film; I think it's one of her best performances (her scene at the very end is excellent). I highly recommend this film for those with eclectic, adventurous tastes.
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