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Sabina has a regular life. She is satisfied with her job and her love for Franco. Lately nightmares start disturbing her, and almost in the same time she discovers to be pregnant. Step by step she remembers her childhood spent within a severe middle-class family. But a big secret is hidden within her heart. Sabina wants to contact again her brother, a University teacher in the US, to try to understand what is happened in their past. What is the secret? She is determined to bring clarity and serenity in her life. She finally manages to free herself from her "beast inside the heart". Written by
'La Bestia nel cuore' ('The Beast in the Heart' released in the USA as 'Don't Tell') is an intense Italian film written and directed by Cristina Comencini that tackles subject matter so visceral that the telling of it requires complete concentration from the audience in order to feel the power of the impact at the end. It is a tough film to watch because of the story, but it is a superb film to watch because of the excellent cast and production crew.
Sabina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) is introduced to us in a cemetery where she is arranging for the interment of her dead parents: the mood for the story is subtly set. Sabina is a dubbing actress for translating films into Italian, a 'sell-out' acting job compared to the life of her live-in boyfriend Franco (Alessio Boni) who is a stage actor being tempted to accept a role in a TV series which pays more money than the stage. Sabina confesses she wants to get pregnant, she does, and with her pregnancy she begins to have nightmares of shadowy childhood memories. She is afraid to discuss these with Franco, or with her best friend Emilia (Stefania Rocca) who is blind and has been in love with Sabina since childhood. It seems the only person with whom she can confide her secret fears is her brother Daniele (Luigi Lo Cascio) who has moved from Italy to Charlottesville, VA where he is a professor at the University and has a happy family life with wife Anna (Lucy Akhurst) and two children. Sabina flies to the US to be with her brother and in the course of their reunion the two siblings uncover the beasts in their hearts: sexual abuse from their father now departed. How this discovery alters their lives is the dénouement of the film.
There are many subplots - infidelity on the part of Franco while Sabina is away, a lesbian relationship that develops between Emilia and another of Sabina's friends Maria (Angela Finocchiaro) - and Comencini draws subtle parallels between these twists along side the main story of incest discovery. Yet without concentration, these subplots can become distracting.
The acting is on the highest level and the changing locations are shot by cinematographer Fabio Cianchetti with sensitive respect of the nuances of suggestion encased in each place. The uncredited musical score is an admixture from Robert Schumann's piano sonata to contemporary works and serves to heighten the actions and mood. In Italian with subtitles. A film well worth watching.
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