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A Ukrainian woman named Irena calculatedly insinuates herself into the lives of a young, affluent Italian family. Stopping at nothing to become the couple's trusted maid and the beloved nanny to their fragile young daughter, Irena risks everything in her quest to uncover the truth about the family. Like an intricately constructed jigsaw puzzle, The Unknown Woman reveals piece by piece the enigma of Irena's past. Written by
The film received a small release in Los Angeles in late 2007 in order to qualify for the 80th Annual Academy Awards (it was eligible in all categories, including Best Foreign Language Film). However it didn't get a wide US release until the following year. See more »
I did not know anything about the movie except that it was made by the director of Malena (a movie that I did not like that much except its images and story line). I had totally no expectations from this one and I sat wondering what is to come.
The story is about a Ukrainian girl Irina (Russian actress Kseniva Rappoport) who comes from a small village and has a lover who is a construction worker. Due to dreams of becoming rich and famous, she becomes a prostitute and is exploited by a pimp Muffa (Michele Placido), who kills the lover, sells off the newly born child of pregnant Irina and sadomizes & beats Irina in sex work. The movie is extremely mysterious with Irina's past unfolding with tits and bits of flashback while she works as a house maid for a small family Valeria (Claudia Gerini), her husband Donato (Pierfrancesco Favino) and their daughter Tea (Clara Dossena) - in an Italian city. I won't tell you the whole story here and spoil the great viewing.
Famous Italian Director Giuseppe Tornatore directs this movie after six years of gap and comes out with a winner. The movie has its thrills, drama and emotions that keep the audience on the edge of the seat. There are some disturbing violent and sexual content in the movie.
Kseniva is so beautiful and acts brilliantly throughout displaying the range of emotions that a few actresses get to enact in their entire career. Michele Placido as Muffa is scary and real mean. The stealer performance is by Clara as a 5 year old daughter who acts naturally. Claudi and Pierfrancesco are also good.
Giuseppe always extracts excellent cinematography and background musical score, so does he this time.
In the last 20 minutes, the movie looses its hold a bit but all in all it is a great movie viewing. I do not know Italian or the Dutch sub-titles but good movies do not require local language to communicate and good directors are not restrictive with any aspects of constraining mediums of cinema.
That is the brilliance of classical form of movie making! (Stars 7.25 out of 10)
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