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abelardo6416 January 2010
A childhood memory, looking into his mother's face with a full moon creating a halo around her. Beautiful and so Italian. The mother in this case is Jill Claybourgh, she was raiding the crest of the wave then and it's very telling that she would choose to play a part that required, not just appearing completely nude but making love to her teen age junkie of a son. She is awkwardly terrific. Her face is a voyage in itself. I would have use quite a different wardrobe for her character as well as make up and hair style but maybe that was just a sign of its day. Jill laughs saying "I am crazy" and that would explain some of the dangerous nuttiness she indulges in here. Her son, played beautifully, by unknown - before and since - Matthew Barry. A Bertoluccian teen sex object if I ever so one. The film has oodles of moments to cherish. Tomas Milian plays the boy's real father. They've never met, His father still lives in a rather intense relationship with his mother, the stunning Alida Valli. In small, very small parts, Carlo Verdone, Roberto Benigni and Renato Salvatori. A film to enjoy with your heart, your gut and your libido but not your brain. Just live your brain for other Bertolucci jewels.
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Ultimate Beauty in it's Purest Form.
mortiis2519 August 2002
Well well well, what do we have here? Another one of Bertolucci's earlier films? Yes and No. This is one of Bernardo Bertolucci's earlier films (1979), but it is unlike anything that he had done before or ever did again.

La Luna is something that is a gem of film-making history, even though it is virtually impossible to get on video (and it will most probably never be shown on Television again).

It tells the sad, depressing (yet beautiful) tale of a young boy's growth into adolescence , while experimenting with drugs and eventually (as they always do) ends up becoming addicted to Heroin.

His Mother(played ever so beautifully by Jill Clayburge), in an effort to try and 'wean him' off the drugs develops an incestuous relationship with her son.

Shocking as the description above may sound at first, please do not let it put you off seeing this fantastic film, as it is only a small slice of the cinematically glorious outing that this film is!

The photography portrayed in this film is the best that bertolucci has ever achieved (Yes, even the fantastic The Last Emperor and Little Buddah). When I say a film is utterly breath-taking (I am a hard person to please when it comes to films, just read my other reviews here!), then you know you're in for a treat and a half.

But, what is the point of this review unless people have a chance to witness the sheer beauty for themselves?

I saw this film when I was 15 years of age. I am now 26 and have never forgotten a single FRAME of La Luna. Every word, every scene sticks in my mind like a vivid memory, and I in some ways feel that I was in the film somehow and was able to feel all the anger, all the pain and all the love that surrounded it.

For a film to make this much of an impression on someone and for that impression to still be fresh in the person's mind eleven years later, you also know this film has to be a good thing.

You people, I am very sad to say, will probably never have the chance to see this film (as it has not been released on Video - I have tried nearly every day for eleven years to find a copy!!!).

But let what I have said stick in your mind, just as La Luna hopefully will some day...
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A "perfect" sophisticated movie if your taste rises above the adolescent level.
negevoli-449 June 2000
One of my favorites -- a "perfect" movie by MY standards: intelligent, a good story, great direction, an attractive and effective cast, and stunning locales and photography. An elegant production -- not one lame or wasted moment. New York-based American diva Jill Clayburgh, a true celebrity, is married to (it could happen!) Fred Gwynne. Her only child, a teenage son (Matthew Barry) accompanies his parents to a plush rental home in Italy, where Clayburgh's opera career has taken her, and where his biological father lives. Though hobnobbing and partying with the rich and famous in Rome, Clayburgh nonetheless is worried about her son because of his "distance" and solitude, -- he doesn't take to his step-father -- his general teenage angst, and his pending reunion with his "real" father. Clayburgh's motherly instincts kick in and she soon learns her loving son has indeed fallen in with the "wrong crowd." Mamma mia! He is on his way to being a junkie and Clayburgh takes rather "extreme" steps to get the boy's mind off heroin and other cheap thrills. Not for the kiddies, but entertaining for grown-ups who like something different and have open minds.

The adult theme is rather tame, relatively speaking, and is handled well and not explicitly, especially compared with the moronic garbage being spewed out in American movies and TV today. Certainly not in the nearly-x-rated category of Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris," for example. What I want to know is whatever happened to the hauntingly handsome then-youngster Matthew Barry? He could have had a promising film career, based on his good looks and his performance in Luna. I saw this on Cinemax in the early, good old days (early 1980s) when it aired great movies, especially foreign films. I have tried, but been unable to, buy it, sad to say.)
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A beautiful complex film
clive-284 July 2000
I found this a stunning and emotionally complex film. If you enjoy films mainly concerning characterisation in which the emotional complexities of human beings are not served up in easily chewable chunks, then you will probably enjoy this film. Even given the above, you might still be disconcerted by the rapid plot changes and narrative swings. Two points are valid here: Bertolucci directed this during the time when he was heavily into psychoanalysis ; and secondly, someone quite lucidly stated that Bertolucci's Spider's Stratagem was a movie with a linear narrative shown in a non-linear manner while La Luna was a movie with a non-linear narrative shown in a linear manner. Viewed in this manner, one can enjoy the film with its many beautifully crafted scenes.

I love how the film presents the craziness of life with its contradictions, multiple meanings and emotional messiness. The irrational and problematic behavior of the characters may make the film harder to follow but seems to me a truer view of life than the explicit logical road map given to audiences in most films.

The film does date itself clearly in the 1970s, so you have to accept some scary clothing moments such as Jill Clayburgh walking out of a building into a bright Rome day wearing sunglasses so big only a comedian would wear them these days. But on the whole this does not distract from the overall effect.

Finally, opera lovers will enjoy the set piece opera scenes which are very ingeniously shot and beautifully staged.
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Flawed but haunting Bertolucci film
jonsj28 March 2004
Not quite sure how I exactly feel about this film. As with a lot of Bertolucci movies, there are plenty of cringe-inducing moments, from the overblown Verdi opera scenes to Jill Clayburgh campily dancing around to rock music screeching "Oh yeah! In the 60s we believed in THINGS!!!" Taken as a whole, the movie is very uneven, psychologically muddled, heavy-handed and overlong. But there are haunting stretches in this movie which continue to resonate with me -- an opening passage where Clayburgh is biking in the night with her baby, and even smaller moments like the strangely beautiful shot of the teenagers skateboarding down the streets of Rome, or the kid dancing to "Night Fever". I would love to rewatch it and hope it get released on DVD. It's a fascinating entry in Bertolucci's work. A mess, but I think it's stayed with me more strongly than 1900 or Tango, though I think The Conformist still reigns supreme.
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A riposte to Freudianism?
howie7330 December 2004
Not many discuss Bertolucci's La Luna as one of his most challenging films but I beg to differ. In 1979 I presume the film's campy allure had not been registered but today it's all to be seen; call it kitsch or ironic, but la Luna encapsulates two worlds Bertolucci tried to negotiate in most of his films - the world of appearances and surfaces against the inner world of the protagonist. La Luna plays both against each other as a masquerade, because what we think we are getting is not what we really are seeing. Bertolucci presents the first part as a post-Freudian fable in late 70s Rome where an Opera singer and her son indulge in an Oedipal relationship. Bertolucci then introduces the lost but real father to the scene as if to eradicate Freudian psychoanalysis as a spurious retelling of Greek myth. It seems the son only wants his father's recognition and love, while the mother is marginalized. It's a very masculine thesis for Bertolucci, one that reinforces the illusory fundamentals of Patriarchy, while negating the matriarchal as a mere bypass to the final journey(father's love).

Jill Clayburgh's acting is off-key most of the time but this unwittingly invests the film with its latter-day camp quality, while Matthew Barry looks dazed and confused throughout the entire film. Rome is undoubtedly the best part of the film as well as the sumptuous visuals that capture its sun-drenched beauty and decaying but grand monuments.
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it's a flawed, schizophrenic artistic feat
MisterWhiplash20 February 2007
In a way I feel sorry for Bernardo Bertolucci's La Luna, though maybe more for Bertolucci than the film itself. Having come off of the monumental undertaking of 1900, he probably wanted to still keep the challenging creative juices flowing, and in doing so concocted an idea surrounding a mother and son who lose their closest significant other and go to Rome, only to get dragged into their own created mire of drug addiction, self-absorption, and incest. This, of course, sounds quite meaty dramatically, at least when first heard. Executed on film it's another story, and the final script is probably what ends up making the film one of the weakest- if not THE weakest- I've seen from the director yet.

This still means that there's good chunks in there, even really wonderfully sordid moments of incredible familial dysfunction between mother and son. But unlike, for example, Malle's Murmur of the Heart, there's a lack of cohesion to any sense of firm psychology with either mother or son, and while things are fascinating and potent in dramatic spontaneity in the first two-thirds, there's a moment when things start to go downhill. By the end, I wondered if Bertolucci was about to break into the end of 8 1/2.

We're given a character study, that's for sure, and quite the two f***ed up characters. The mother is Caterina (Jill Clayburgh, a quasi Diane Keaton look-alike, however only sometimes talented and convincing), who's husband (in a great bit part by Fred Gwynne) dies suddenly while driving a car. Though both mother and son are devastated, they go to Rome so she can sing in the opera there. The son, meanwhile, is at that absolutely abhorrent age in anyone's life- 15- and at first is into some nothingness abound with a girl, and soon enough into a dead-end mind-set of heroin.

This alarms her mother, to be sure, and perhaps the most perfect scene of the film (whether this means it will shock or unsettle is another matter), is when the son plays piano for a moment when the mother tries to get her son to tell her about his drug problem, peers for a moment under his shirt, and then he erupts at her with physical violence. Finally it ends, and she goes to one side of the room with a look like 'what the hell just happened', and he goes off to do more junk. There's even the brilliant little insinuation, which is all that's needed, of a notion of desire when she's trying to peer at his arm.

Now, if there had been more scenes like this, consistently, it might even be one of Bertolucci's masterpieces. But, however, this is not to be. Towards the middle things even become shaky, as the same randomness of mind and spirit with the mother and son, this chronic sense of equal parts of nihilism, despair, gallows humor, and the oddness of bourgeois discontent with dark pasts, becomes something that Bertolucci isn't fully able to grab a hold of. And unlike in Last Tango in Paris, there's no Marlon Brando here to make things incredibly appealing with totally believable dread in the face of loss. Matthew Barry is decent in the part of Joe, the son, but also teeters on being annoying (which maybe is part of the desired effect, but still).

And the sense of how their push and pull relationship with his drug addiction as the center isn't fully resolved with the mother. Clayburgh's Caterina just isn't sympathetic, or empathetic, enough to get into her mind-set, because despite being interesting in her part of a somewhat un-fit parent who loves her son perhaps in the worst possible ways, and that both are crazy, it isn't enough to sustain what happens at the 2/3 mark...which is when Bertolucci and his writers pull out the "son, I'll take you back to your roots, and find your *real* father who made you a bastard" card, and everything goes downhill from there.

It's a mark of downhill quality that has almost been building, and it's troubling especially since a lot DOES work in morbid detail of the characters, and how operatic intonations somehow become involved in their plights. But Bertolucci tends to put the hammer down in both technique and substance, and only in the former does it really work. His and Vittorio Storaro's eye in this film is just as sharp and succulent as in their other collaborations, with the camera gliding seamlessly in some crucial ways, providing movement to just the slightest moments of emotional upheaval. Yet even in the least effective spot of the film, there are the moments, like when Joe plays drums with his fork and spoon at the table. Or the very awkward silence after the mother's sexual advances go very unheeded. In the end La Luna becomes more worthwhile to see for what doesn't work as opposed to what does.

While some might come away from it feeling that it's an uncompromising work of genius, I wouldn't, though it's not a failure either. It's a curious work of bravura testing of the limits of what people- in this case Americans- can be in such a European environment, and that the psychologies therein are as wobbly as a bad table leg.
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Perhaps women understand this best
SLR-319 December 1999
I recall that both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel HATED this film, which they characterized as senseless meanderings in an incomprehensively large Italian villa by two characters about whom we care nothing. I chose to see it anyway, and absolutely loved it. Perhaps only a woman can relate to just how far a mother will go to redirect her son from a deadly path.
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A stunning masterpiece of cinematic genius!
scottmichaelheath2 October 2010
Bernardo Bertolucci's La Luna is a phenomenal piece of cinematic genius indeed, and something which should be viewed with an open mind, and most likely in solitude as opposed to with friends or family.

I first saw the film over twenty years ago when it showed on a local TV channel late at night. It was my first introduction to Bertolucci, but it convinced me immediately of his powers! The storyline is simple, yet it is complex (let's call it simply complex for arguments sake!). It involved the character of an opera singer (played magnificently by Jill Clayburge), and her son (played equally fine by Matthew Barry).

Some people have frowned upon the film for it's incestuous content - yet I would beg to differ. Although there most certainly are incest scenes in the film, there is really only one or two which 'shock', yet they are primary to the storyline, and they do help with filling out the flesh of it all, so to speak.

Heroin addiction is another aspect of this film which may disturb some people (especially from a character so young), but being an ex heroin addict myself, these scenes did not bother me, but bought back some pretty painful memories (as did the incest ones), and they are done with beauty and not overindulged at all.

Put simply, this film needs to be seen by everyone, and you must truly see it for what it is - a magnificent piece of artistic cinema in it's most purest form.
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I actually auditioned for this film
TimWil014-119 November 2007
I actually auditioned for the role of the son when the mother was originally supposed to be played by Liv Ullman I think I read for it twice but was ultimately rejected because I looked too American in a Tom Sawyer kind of way-the boy who ended up doing it had a European quality in his face which Bertolucci wanted for the role. I saw it twice when it came out in the US, both times at the Loews Twin Cinemas. I remember it as having been gorgeously shot. The performances by Clayburgh and Barry are extremely good. Alida Valli is superb. The opera scenes were fantastic. Why isn't this out on DVD? Will we have to wait until after Bertolucci's death?
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A masterpiece incorrectly analyzed and under-appreciated.
carlosalberto-canales16 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Everyone that has (or has had) a mother of considerable beauty, with a strong presence in their lives and/or where a father figure is flawed one and/or doesn't exist at all, can immediately understand and relate to this spectacular drama. From the very first minutes we can witness the connection between mother and son, a bond so strong that goes beyond words. This movie has been badly reviewed and analyzed until this day. I will humbly try to correct some points made by others. The young kid in the movie begins his descent into drugs not because he misses her dad, but because he wants to numb himself and escape the sexual lust and feelings he has towards her mom. You can watch it very clearly in the scene between them when he couldn't inject heroin in his arm due to a lack of a needle and it's all covered in fever. He then proceeds to guide her mom's hand to his groin. It's clear then the real motive why he was in that condition. Another point most people don't seem to recognize is that the mother doesn't recur to the incest to get close to his son. She does so because she shared the same sexual desire towards him. She had witness an incestuous relationship between his boyfriend and his mother and accepted it because deep inside she knew she had it (those impulses) in her too.

This movie's themes and subject matter are taboo to this day, but I for once I'm grateful that those kind of themes are covered at all in an elegant, profound and non-graphic film such as this one. This is not a soft porn flick nor it is made for titillating audiences. The photography, the music and Jill Clayburg's performance are like the icing on a cake. This is one of those rare movies that's so rich in content that it deserves repeated viewing in order to fully understand all it's values and details.
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Shine Mother Moon, shine on me!
andrabem2 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"La Luna is a wonderful film - Caterina (Jill Clayburgh) goes with her son Joe (Matthew Berry) to Italy after the death of her husband/Joe's "father". In Italy they stand by themselves and Joe, a lonely boy, is still grieving his "father"'s death. This is not apparent because Joe looks like a normal teenager. Parties, girlfriend and so on. One day during Joe's birthday party, Caterina discovers that her son is on heroine. She doesn't know what to do. She gets to know that Joe, her son, feels very lonely and she tries to deepen their relationship. It is not easy. Joe is sensitive and very intelligent. It wouldn't do to just pat his head, tell him to stop with the nonsense and be a good boy - there's no use for the repressive approach. And their relationship gets very close - psychologically and sexually speaking. It's amazing. A special love relationship will grow between mother and son. I don't believe that a film like "La Luna" could be made in the USA. The USA are too puritan for this kind of thing.

There's a beautiful interview of Bertolucci featured in the bonus in which he comments on how his own remembrances influenced the film - he was a baby and his mother was cycling on the road one night. She was young and beautiful and he remembers seeing her face and then the moon in a way that both seemed to blend together for some moments. The bonus shows us Bertolucci being interviewed in different phases of his life. He is very intelligent and human and has really something to say.

"La Luna" is a very beautiful film that can touch a delicate subject with tenderness and poetry. Jill Clayburgh and Matthew Barry are outstanding as mother and son and I must confess that during the film I wished Jill Clayburgh were my mother. Oh Yes!

I didn't like the ending so much, but I think that maybe Bertolucci wanted an operatic ending to "La Luna", it is a matter of taste, anyway.
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Disturbing but excellent exploration of the Oedipal
leventhal-13 April 2001
This is one of Bertolucci's best films. After the sudden death of his stepfather, whom he believes was his real father, the teenager Joe and his famous mother (played by Jill Clayburgh) depart for Italy. There, the unresolved enigma of his real father, his erotic attachment to his mother, the narcissism of the mother, and his own inability to truly connect with anybody else drive Joe into the world of heroin. His mother discovers his habit, and out of a combination of guilt and her own narcissistic loss of boundaries, first colludes with him to procure the drug, and then attempts to soothe him in his despair through sexual stimulation, and gets drawn into the Oedipal vortex into which Joe has plunged. This film demonstrates with great power the devastating consequences of the failure to resolve the Oedipal conflict. The film is difficult to find in America, but is well worth the effort.
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Heavy-duty incestuous involvement of mother and son.
vic-1223 May 2001
Jill Clayburg's acting was powerful and melodramatic as she attempts to use sex and herself to lure this disturbed son away from cocaine addiction. It gets almost pornographic and thereby uncomfortable to watch as the boy was only about 14. One could argue that he was an under-age actor who was being sexually exploited while Bertolucci was acting out some of his own problems while in psychoanalysis.

On the other hand, such movie-makers do the audience a service in bringing incestuous behavior and psychology to consciousness, where it lurks unconsciously in most people. Mother-son seductiveness is not that rare but is mostly denied and rationalized.
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Doesn't Bertolucci have something better to do?
Greedorr20 October 1998
It's obvious watching Luna that Bernard Bertolucci has a visual gift. The movie's opening scenes are lyrical and arresting. Unfortunately, what follows is a ridiculous story about an opera singer (Clayburg) who tries to hold onto her 14-year-old junkie son by trying to have sex with him. Despite touches of humor and candor (like the scene where Clayburg visits her son's Muslim dealer), the overall effect made me sad for the actors, who took a great risk, I think, in agreeing to appear in this. By the time I reached the sappy, "magical" operatic finale, my finger was firmly pressed against the Fast-Forward button.
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Late Night Cable TV
assimilationsarah4 December 2016
This movie was on the "forbidden list" when I was growing up. Of course that only made me and my siblings want to watch it more. Thank goodness I saw it late one night on cable TV by myself as I think it would have been embarrassing to watch it with my brothers (or my parents for that matter). Being only 13 at the time it was definitely "eye opening" to say the least. Jill Clayburgh became one of my first crushes. I have not seen it since I was a kid but the plot of it was secondary to my 13 year old self. Caught it with some of my friends less than a month later in a movie marathon home alone sleepover. Just as "fascinating" as "Porkys' but in a whole different way. OK. I've said too much.
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Bertolucci "Masturbating As Fast As He Can"
Nemesis7293-129 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Oh, Goody. Yet another stunningly pretentious, loathsomely arty piece of Euro-dreck. What there is of a plot concerns Jill Clayburgh, ludicrously cast as a world famous opera singer, and Matthew Barry as her 14 year old heroin addict son and her attempts to get him off the smack by screwing his brains out. Undoubtedly, the most beautifully photographed soft-core incest porn you'll ever see....also the most deadly dull. You'll love the scene where Clayburgh rubs Barry's penis through his jeans, mmmmm....appetizing, no? Obviously an epic piece of whacking material for Bertolucci, but just because he wanted to screw his mother......did he have to make a movie about it? Spare me, Bernardo.
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It is only palatable once the opera sequences come in sight
m-sendey5 September 2013
An opera singer Caterina Silveri (Jill Clayburgh) sets off for Italy, the moment her husband gets killed in a car accident. She is accompanied by her young, handsome son Joe (Matthew Barry) who soon grows in the habit of taking drugs. The mother begins an incestuous relationship with her lonely son so that he could overcome his addiction…

This motion picture from Bernardo Bertolucci is a flabbergastingly inconsistent opus which does not shock anymore and whose composition resembles a mashed frog smeared on one's wall. The film is generally flawed owing to being lamely scripted and having the horrendous dialogues which prejudice the material even more. By re-conceiving the concept from Before the Revolution from 1964, Mr Bertolucci perchance intends to exhibit the putridity of haute bourgeoisie as well as a complicated relationship between the mother and her infant, but he fails to convey anything but cheap gestures, scenes swaying between solemnity and instants of quasi-hysterical exultations reminiscent of a bottom-drawer vaudeville, performers who turn up for no reason whatsoever, a great deal of pointless moments which do not add anything to the already muddled plot. Bertolucci seems to be smug to disclose some bond between opera and cinema, yet, to my way of thinking, the upshot is downright pathetic and deprived of essential ingredients such as likable leading figures. Instead, a viewer is constrained to sit through over two hours with two crass hedonists endeavouring to find happiness in their narcissistic lives. The flick welters in its excesses and it is only palatable once the opera sequences come in sight, unfortunately these are few and far between. The characters in la bête noire by Bertolucci are provided with no depth and constitute just furnishings in this beauteously framed film, shot by the great Vittorio Storaro. The personalities of the main heroes i.e. the opera singer and her son are contrived, unreal, but most of all, there is no chemistry in the realm of their interactions and all the protagonists do is quarrelling and making up. This repetitiveness will prove quite an ordeal for some. Ultimately, we are stranded in this vortex of soap opera seasoned with munificent portions of soap, paltry discourses, ubiquitous aimlessness and directional complacency. Towards the denouement, the opus embarks on being slightly better on account of Tomas Milian's agile performance, but it is too late to revive the already embalmed content.

Jill Clayburgh is not too bad as Caterina Silveri, although her appearance in this movie does not render the things any better. Matthew Barry is the one who feels rather inexperienced in his role and as a consequence, he pronounces his lines virtually phonetically. Tomas Milian is the best member of the cast and his subtle performing infuses some realism into the frenetic work. There are some other dexterous actors e.g. Franco Citti, Alida Valli, Renato Salvatori and Roberto Benigni who almost seems to be perpetuated on the celluloid by accident, his part is very, very insignificant and unnecessary.

The cinematography by Storaro is ravishingly enthralling, as always. Storaro captures the beauty of landscapes like a painter, considerately constructing the image in detail, one element after another. Notwithstanding, if you are exasperated by the dissipated narrative texture, asinine conversations, the insipid, vagabond script and you don't find the film any better than I do, you might be insufficiently attentive to his décor. The soundtrack by Ennio Morricone is not memorable at all, but it certainly unnerves and prompts some sort of foreboding.

I am certain that there are people who appreciate this flick, but, as far as I am concerned, this blague does not appeal to me forasmuch as it implicates unlikable, one-dimensional characters, loads of senseless sequences, needlessly prolonged running time, contrived dialogues and the enragingly pervasive ambivalence. How to express it all in a couple of lines? At one point in the movie, Joe Silveri prepares supper for himself and his mum. Once he tastes the meal he has just cooked, he winces and utters: "God, it's awful, it sucks". This epitomises La luna for me. It genuinely sucks.
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A Big Tease
parkerr8630219 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Luna has never been on video or DVD in America, and seems to have vanished after its theatrical release. Too bad, I would like to see it again, even though my memories of it aren't very favorable. A point should be clarified, although it is a spoiler. The film is about incestuous attraction---no genuine act of incest actually occurs. When Jill Clayburgh finally tries to get her son into bed, he rejects her and slaps her around. That ends that. If some of the other viewers here were unnerved by the depiction of incestuous desire, how would they have felt if the act had actually occurred??? The film was also disappointing to have the kid be an obnoxious heroin junkie--that works against the film in a big way. Perhaps the film will yet resurface someday, and we can evaluate it again.
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Try to keep an open mind towards it.
philip_vanderveken6 June 2005
I always try to see as many European movies as possible. That has nothing to do with the fact that I'm a European myself. It's because I want to keep an open mind on as many kinds of movies as possible. I certainly do not dislike Hollywood movies, but I find the Asian and European movies sometimes more original and stylish. Especially the Italians seem to have a feeling for creating a beautiful, stylish and colorful movie, so when I got the chance to see "La Luna", a movie directed by Bernardo Bertolucci I didn't have to think twice...

"La Luna" tells the story of the recently widowed American opera diva Caterina Silveri. She takes her teenage son Joe, who believes that it was his father who died, while in reality it was his stepfather, with her on a long singing tour to Italy. But she is so absorbed by her hectic work schedule that she doesn't pay much attention to him. Soon she discovers that her troubled and lonely son has become a heroin addict and in her attempts to get him of the drugs, they start an incestuous relationship. Still, these problems may also result in a meeting between Joe and his real father, whose existence she has always kept a secret, but now reveals in a desperate attempt to make her son act normal again.

I understand that many people will raise an eyebrow after reading this resume, but I guess that's exactly what I mean about keeping an open mind towards as many movies as possible. I'm sure you'll never see such a movie in Hollywood, but that doesn't mean it can't be any good, does it? And yes, perhaps the subject will not appeal to many people, but in my opinion it still is worth giving a try.

I've read in other reviews that this may well be the best movie Bertolucci has ever made, better than "The Last Emperor" and "Little Buddah", his more famous movies. I really can't tell you whether they are right or not, because I haven't seen those movies yet, but what I can say is that this is a good movie. The acting and the photography make this movie look better than average and make the disturbing subject bearable to watch. That's why I give this movie a 7/10. It's probably not to everybody's taste, but it certainly isn't bad.
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theeht24 August 2001
Not very good film with JIll Clayburgh as a recently widowed American opera singer in Italy who becomes sexually involved with her 14 year old heroin-addicted son. We are offered no character background as to why these two are so dysfunctional so we care little about them in this overlong drama. It's almost as if the mother feels sex will help to cure her son. This is the first film that led (along with Hanna K. and I'm dancing as fast as i can) to the downfall of Clayburgh's,(then America's top actress)career, although she deserves kudos for tackling such an unpleasant role.
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Far from best Bertolucci
holsu7 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Bernardo Bertolucci have a fantastic way of making movies. His stories are usually a bit weird but altogether very interesting. This time the story doesn't please me that much.

La Luna is a story about the relationship between an opera singer (Jill Clayburgh) and her son (Matthew Barry). The movie is as beautifully filmed as Bertolucci's movies always are but the weird incestical feeling about it does not appeal to me. I just can't find any reason for it. I also think that the heroin addiction is not portrayed very believably.

Plus points for the strong European feeling in the movie.
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From brilliant to bizarre
eric-norton-62723 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The first half of this film is a brilliant story about a teenage boy hopelessly lost in a world not of his own making. Torn from familiar surroundings with only his distant mother for support, he turns to drugs to find some kind of "comfort" in his life. However, the second half quickly delves into a bizarre relationship of incest between the boy and his mother. Granted, it was originally to cure him of his drug habit, but she soon begins to like it, and that's when all hell seems to break loose. My rating of 7 stars is simply because the first half was so incredibly wonderful (great plot, good acting, gorgeous Italian scenery). The second half isn't without its charms, too, and the back-and-forth "I love you, I hate you" relationship between the mother and son works well... IF you can overlook the fact that it is, indeed, a mother and son.
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Great Bertolucci
jromanbaker23 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After his death there was a deathly silence about this great film, especially among the so-called film critics in England. But Oh did they have a field day with the butter scene out of 'Last Tango in Paris' which as a film when seen objectively is almost as great as this film. But our moral prudery got in the way, and there were polite gestures towards lesser films with safer subjects. And yes Bertolucci could be safe. His avoidance of homosexuality in 'The Dreamers' based on gay writer Gilbert Adair's original novel was saddening, as it was a main explicit core of Adair's original book 'The Holy Innocents'. Maybe he was tired of controversy. La Luna' is his most perfect work, culminating in an emotional climax that makes you wonder how he could enhance music with drama in a way that say Visconti often failed to do; Visconti who ruined Mahler and made his music a cliche. To praise Tomas Milian, Matthew Barry and the extraordinary Jill Clayburgh at her finest is not enough. It is the director's vision, his illumination of ultimate union between the characters that counts. The reconciliation scene uses Verdi and his opera 'Un Ballo in Maschera' to counterpoint and not to impose upon the film. In that ending it is time to put away moronic talk of incest and heroin, but to say along with D.H. Lawrence in his poem, 'Look, we have come through!' Finally for those who have failed to know the heights and the depths of life, this is not the film for you.
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