6.7/10
3,166
40 user 31 critic

Luna (1979)

La luna (original title)
While touring in Italy, a recently-widowed American opera singer has an incestuous relationship with her 15-year-old son to help him overcome his heroin addiction.

Writers:

(story), (story) | 4 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The study of a youth on the edge of adulthood and his aunt, ten years older. Fabrizio is passionate, idealistic, influenced by Cesare, a teacher and Marxist, engaged to the lovely but ... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Adriana Asti, Francesco Barilli, Allen Midgette
Partner (1968)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Bernardo Bertolucci, along with co-scenarist Gianni Amico, used Dostoievski's 1846, pre-imprisonment novella The Double: A Petersburg Poem, which they moved to Italy and updated to the pro-Vietcong student-protest present,

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Pierre Clémenti, Tina Aumont, Sergio Tofano
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Athos Magnani, a young researcher, returns to Tara, where his father was killed before his birth, at the request of Draifa. The father, also named Athos Magnani and looking exactly like the... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Giulio Brogi, Alida Valli, Pippo Campanini
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The American artist couple Port and Kit Moresby travel aimlessly through Africa, searching for new experiences that could give sense to their relationship. But the flight to distant regions only leads both deeper into despair.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Debra Winger, John Malkovich, Campbell Scott
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The son of the owner of a large Italian cheese factory is kidnapped, but as the factory is on the verge of bankruptcy the owner hatches a plan to use the ransom money as reinvestment in the... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Ugo Tognazzi, Anouk Aimée, Laura Morante
Gemini (2005)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A domineering mother with a seemingly perfect family in Argentina is unaware of a taboo relationship happening with her youngest children.

Director: Albertina Carri
Stars: Cristina Banegas, Daniel Fanego, Maria Abadi
Besieged (1998)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When an African dictator jails her husband, Shandurai goes into exile in Italy, studying medicine and keeping house for Mr. Kinsky, an eccentric English pianist and composer. She lives in ... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Thandie Newton, David Thewlis, Claudio Santamaria
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

After her mother commits suicide, nineteen year old Lucy Harmon travels to Italy to have her picture painted. However, she has other reasons for wanting to go. She wants to renew her ... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Jeremy Irons, Liv Tyler, Carlo Cecchi
1900 (1976)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The epic tale of a class struggle in 20th Century Italy, as seen through the eyes of two childhood friends on opposing sides.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Near the Tiber river, in a Roman park, a prostitute was killed. The police tracks down people that were inside the park during that night. They are questioned and have to explain why they ... See full summary »

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Francesco Ruiu, Giancarlo De Rosa, Vincenzo Ciccora
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A young Parisian woman meets a middle-aged American businessman who demands their clandestine relationship be based only on sex.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Maria Michi
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

This is a jolly coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy named Laurent Chevalier who is growing up in bourgeois surroundings in Dijon, France. This is France in the mid-1950s rather than... See full summary »

Director: Louis Malle
Stars: Lea Massari, Benoît Ferreux, Daniel Gélin
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Caterina Silveri
...
Joe Silveri
Veronica Lazar ...
Marina
...
Communist
...
Douglas Winter
...
Giuseppe's Mother
Elisabetta Campeti ...
Arianna
...
Man in Bar
...
...
Director of Caracalla
Peter Eyre ...
Edward
Mustapha Barat ...
Mustafa (as Stéphane Barat)
Pippo Campanini ...
Innkeeper
Rodolfo Lodi ...
Maestro Giancarlo Calo
Sara Di Nepi ...
Concetta (as Shara Di Nepi)
Edit

Storyline

Recently widowed American opera diva Caterina takes her teenaged son Joe with her on a long singing tour to Italy. Absorbed in her hectic work in various Verdi operas around Rome, Caterina is soon shocked to discover that her troubled and lonely son has become a heroin addict. Her desperate attempts to wean the youth off the drug result in an incestuous relationship, but also in a possibility to reunite Joe--maybe even herself--with his real father, whose existence she has kept a secret from him. Written by Markku Kuoppamäki

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Catherine & her son share a desire that will shock you. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

30 September 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Luna  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

To prepare for her lead role in this film, actress Jill Clayburgh studied opera singing and took a course in Italian language, although most of the film ended up being in English. See more »

Quotes

Joe Silveri: Don't leave me alone, please.
Caterina Silveri: I'm sorry, Joe.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Censor (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Un ballo in maschera
Composed by Giuseppe Verdi
Soprano Martina Arroyo
Tenor Plácido Domingo
Baritone Piero Cappuccilli
Chorus of the "Royal Opera House," Covent Garden
New Philarmonia Orchestra
Conducted by Riccardo Muti
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
it's a flawed, schizophrenic artistic feat
20 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In a way I feel sorry for Bernardo Bertolucci's La Luna, though maybe more for Bertolucci than the film itself. Having come off of the monumental undertaking of 1900, he probably wanted to still keep the challenging creative juices flowing, and in doing so concocted an idea surrounding a mother and son who lose their closest significant other and go to Rome, only to get dragged into their own created mire of drug addiction, self-absorption, and incest. This, of course, sounds quite meaty dramatically, at least when first heard. Executed on film it's another story, and the final script is probably what ends up making the film one of the weakest- if not THE weakest- I've seen from the director yet.

This still means that there's good chunks in there, even really wonderfully sordid moments of incredible familial dysfunction between mother and son. But unlike, for example, Malle's Murmur of the Heart, there's a lack of cohesion to any sense of firm psychology with either mother or son, and while things are fascinating and potent in dramatic spontaneity in the first two-thirds, there's a moment when things start to go downhill. By the end, I wondered if Bertolucci was about to break into the end of 8 1/2.

We're given a character study, that's for sure, and quite the two f***ed up characters. The mother is Caterina (Jill Clayburgh, a quasi Diane Keaton look-alike, however only sometimes talented and convincing), who's husband (in a great bit part by Fred Gwynne) dies suddenly while driving a car. Though both mother and son are devastated, they go to Rome so she can sing in the opera there. The son, meanwhile, is at that absolutely abhorrent age in anyone's life- 15- and at first is into some nothingness abound with a girl, and soon enough into a dead-end mind-set of heroin.

This alarms her mother, to be sure, and perhaps the most perfect scene of the film (whether this means it will shock or unsettle is another matter), is when the son plays piano for a moment when the mother tries to get her son to tell her about his drug problem, peers for a moment under his shirt, and then he erupts at her with physical violence. Finally it ends, and she goes to one side of the room with a look like 'what the hell just happened', and he goes off to do more junk. There's even the brilliant little insinuation, which is all that's needed, of a notion of desire when she's trying to peer at his arm.

Now, if there had been more scenes like this, consistently, it might even be one of Bertolucci's masterpieces. But, however, this is not to be. Towards the middle things even become shaky, as the same randomness of mind and spirit with the mother and son, this chronic sense of equal parts of nihilism, despair, gallows humor, and the oddness of bourgeois discontent with dark pasts, becomes something that Bertolucci isn't fully able to grab a hold of. And unlike in Last Tango in Paris, there's no Marlon Brando here to make things incredibly appealing with totally believable dread in the face of loss. Matthew Barry is decent in the part of Joe, the son, but also teeters on being annoying (which maybe is part of the desired effect, but still).

And the sense of how their push and pull relationship with his drug addiction as the center isn't fully resolved with the mother. Clayburgh's Caterina just isn't sympathetic, or empathetic, enough to get into her mind-set, because despite being interesting in her part of a somewhat un-fit parent who loves her son perhaps in the worst possible ways, and that both are crazy, it isn't enough to sustain what happens at the 2/3 mark...which is when Bertolucci and his writers pull out the "son, I'll take you back to your roots, and find your *real* father who made you a bastard" card, and everything goes downhill from there.

It's a mark of downhill quality that has almost been building, and it's troubling especially since a lot DOES work in morbid detail of the characters, and how operatic intonations somehow become involved in their plights. But Bertolucci tends to put the hammer down in both technique and substance, and only in the former does it really work. His and Vittorio Storaro's eye in this film is just as sharp and succulent as in their other collaborations, with the camera gliding seamlessly in some crucial ways, providing movement to just the slightest moments of emotional upheaval. Yet even in the least effective spot of the film, there are the moments, like when Joe plays drums with his fork and spoon at the table. Or the very awkward silence after the mother's sexual advances go very unheeded. In the end La Luna becomes more worthwhile to see for what doesn't work as opposed to what does.

While some might come away from it feeling that it's an uncompromising work of genius, I wouldn't, though it's not a failure either. It's a curious work of bravura testing of the limits of what people- in this case Americans- can be in such a European environment, and that the psychologies therein are as wobbly as a bad table leg.


18 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
DVD Copies of La Luna cjbotts-1
similar movies Keoss
Is this movie rare? Alteraltera
comparisons to alice doesn't live here anymore Pinback-4
i need this flim samanthagover
can I get a copy?!? jhl-media
Discuss Luna (1979) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?