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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 Ukranian Irena (Xenia Rappoport) arrives in the city of Velarchi, rents an expensive but simple apartment and seeks a job as a servant in the building in the other side of the street. Then she manages to work for the wealthy couple of gold dealers Adacher, and occasionally babysitting their little daughter Tea (Clara Dossena), who has a rare neurological disease that leaves the little girl without self-defense against any sort of aggression or accident. While working for the family, she is haunted by recollections from her mysterious past of prostitution and violence in Ukrania. However, her nightmares come true when she meets her former pimp that she believed had died.
"La Sconosciuta" is a surprisingly solid and original Italian thriller, with an engaging dramatic story disclosed like a puzzle through a non-linear screenplay. I saw this movie on DVD with a group of friends with low expectation and we found it so good that we never dare to stop the film to make any comment, or drink water or go to a toilet so absorbed we were with the story. The direction of Giuseppe Tornatore from "Cinema Paradiso" is outstanding, with top-notch performances of Xenia Rappoport, Clara Dossena and the cast. The resolution of the plot is excellent and never corny. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "A Desconhecida" ("The Unknown")
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