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Voce umana (2014)
Simple, Elegant, Heartbreaking
This 30-minute film directed by Sophia Loren's son is an intimate look into an hour (and five years) of a woman's life. The film, from a Jean Cocteau story, was made with both Anna Magnani in 1948 and with Ingrid Bergman in 1966, so Loren has two tough acts to follow. She does so with an exquisite portrayal of a woman with barely- controlled despair as she talks on the phone with her lover who is marrying another woman the next day.
The drama takes place in the woman's bedroom, where she talks with her lover in phone calls repeatedly interrupted or cut off and then begun again. The collapse of her world and the emptiness entering her life are sharply contrasted with the meal her maid is making in the next room, a traditional parmigiana that Loren and her lover had shared each week. Thrown out of the routine of her five-year love affair, Loren sinks into depression as the routine of the meal that will not be eaten continues in the background.
It's a stunning little film, and at 79-years-old, Loren is totally convincing as a woman who is probably supposed to be much younger in the film. Just like other signature Loren film portrayals--notably in Marriage Italian Style and Two Women, it is very hard to take one's eyes off of her--not just because she was beautiful but because she is an actress who can say so much with inflection, a turn of her chin, the movement of her hand.