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Maria has worked as a prostitute since her mother died 15 years ago. Her younger sister Catarina is now a shy 17-year old, devoted to art and music, and the lover of her elder sibling, who allows her to leave the apartment only to attend dance class. But when Catarina meets a man there, another forbidden love blossoms. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
A Bizarre Film by an Important New Cinematic Visionary
'Aprimi il cuore' (Open My Heart) is a unique film, one that tells a story of incest, prostitution, and murder in a singularly obtuse family. The genius of this piece is the writer, director and actress Giada Colagrande who has at a young age (she is not yet thirty as of this writing) found a voice in Italian cinema that demands attention. She is a major talent! Colagrande's 2003 film is a triumph.
Two sisters live alone in an apartment: Maria (Natalie Cristiani) is the older and has earned their support as a prostitute since their mother's death 15 years ago, and Caterina (Giada Colagrande) is 17 years old, a virgin confined to the apartment by her older sister with the sole exception of dancing lessons few times a week. Caterina is home taught, reads Dante, John Donne, and the major scientists, all under the guidance of Maria. While Maria brings her clients to the apartment during the day (Caterina must listen to the squeaking bedsprings in the bedroom she shares with Maria at night) and at night Maria hits the streets while Caterina practices her dancing and studies at home. The odd factor is the fact the Maria and Caterina have a strong sexual relationship and when Maria finishes a day's work, Caterina bathes her and they share bed and body in a lesbian relationship.
At Maria's dancing school there is a kind, older janitor Giovanni (Claudio Botosso) who pays attention to the plain Caterina and awakens her sexual feelings. Giovanni 'visits' Maria at their apartment and upon his departure Caterina dresses in a negligee and dances as though before Herod! Giovanni responds and at a later time Maria notices Caterina's inquisitiveness and invites her into the bedroom where she supervises Caterina's loss of virginity with Giovanni.
The floodgate has opened and Caterina soon is hosting Giovanni in a passionate sexual relationship. When Maria discovers the 'intruder' into their private life, she begins a series of deeds that defy sharing in a review. But it should be said that Maria's resolutions result in a return of the sister's relationship, a state that Caterina finalizes in ways learned from her tutor sister.
The acting is superb with special kudos to Colagrande's dancing as well as acting. This is a minimalist script, the camera revealing more about the silences than words ever could. The sexual scenes are graphic but provide the needed impact for the story's conclusion. This may not be a film for the casual viewer, but for those who love the edgy, tough, raw films from the Indies, this is bound to become a classic. Grady Harp
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