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Sacred Heart (2005)

Cuore sacro (original title)
Irene, a workaholic, is forced to re-evaluate her priorities after the suicide of her two best friends.


Ferzan Ozpetek


Ferzan Ozpetek (screenplay), Ferzan Ozpetek (story) | 2 more credits »
10 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Barbora Bobulova ... Irene
Andrea Di Stefano ... Giancarlo
Lisa Gastoni ... Eleonora
Massimo Poggio ... Padre Carras
Camille Dugay Comencini Camille Dugay Comencini ... Benny
Gigi Angelillo Gigi Angelillo ... Aurelio (as Luigi Angelillo)
Erika Blanc ... Maria Clara
Caterina Vertova ... Angela
Stefano Santospago Stefano Santospago ... Giorgio
Michela Cescon ... Anna Maria
Elisabetta Pozzi Elisabetta Pozzi ... La psichiatra
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Enrica Ajò Enrica Ajò ... Francesca
Fabrizio Apolloni
Sanghamitra Bakshi Sanghamitra Bakshi ... Maid (as Shoma)
Gianlorenzo Brambilla Gianlorenzo Brambilla ... Guido
Learn more

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Irene, a workaholic, is forced to re-evaluate her priorities after the suicide of her two best friends.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Your secret heart is a sacred heart.




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Did You Know?


Valeria Golino was the first choice for the role of Irene but was forced to decline due to prior commitments. See more »


Aurelio: [to Irene] Your mother always used to say that each of us has two hearts but one of them ecliPses the other. If each of us could spot, even for a brief moment, the light of his hidden heart, then we will understand that that one is a sacred heart. And we couldn't give up the warmth of its light.
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Ebben? Ne Andro' Lontano
Performed by Alfredo Catalani
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User Reviews

The secret heart of film-making is revealed
3 February 2008 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

Ferzan Ozpetek is one of the most brilliant film directors alive today. This film may be his masterpiece, as it is even better than 'La Finestra di Fronte' ('Facing Windows'), and that seemed impossible. 'Sacred Heart' is nothing to do with Roman Catholicism, and potential viewers should not be put off by fearing that it might be about a lot of tedious nuns praying to 'the sacred heart of Jesus' with their worn rosaries clacking. ('The sacred heart of Jesus' is one of the most appalling, bloody and vulgar of the Roman images, a beating heart transfixed and surrounded by a crown of thorns, and dripping blood just to make it more graphic and 'suffering'. God save us from such barbarous images, and may no film ever be made about it!) The 'sacred heart' referred to in the title is instead the 'secret heart' inside even the most insensitive of us, which can sometimes be awakened, bringing about a character transformation. In this film, a hard and ruthless young businesswoman named Irene, played to perfection by Barbora Bobulova, changes completely before our eyes, in one of the greatest acts of magical transformation ever performed by an actress on the screen. She is a Slovak, who speaks perfect Italian. How did that happen? But then the director is an Italian director who is a Turk. These days anything goes. Italy seems to be becoming as clever at absorbing talented immigrants as the French have always been. This film also contains a magnificent performance by a young girl named Camille Dugay Comencini. As 'Benny', this girl gives a performance so naked in its total honesty that it puts the seal on the story, and makes us believe everything, indeed believe anything. It is Benny who cracks the granite heart of Irene, revealing the sacred heart within. The only Catholic who comes anywhere near this story is a priest named Padre Carras, played superbly by Massimo Poggio, but he is more social worker than religious figure. When he sinks back into the womb of his Church, wanting to introduce Irene to a bishop because she is becoming such a saint, she rightly drops him, as being too compromised by his institution, and she flees the bishop's grand palace without meeting the bishop, to return to the desperate poverty of the disadvantaged whom she is helping. One of the most shocking scenes ever filmed in the entire history of the cinema is when Irene, moved to such extremes of anguish at the suffering of humanity, removes all of her clothes in public piece by piece and gives each article of clothing away to a passing stranger. Of course, she has become more than a little overwrought by this stage, and has to be forced to take a rest. But we see here the birth of a saint, not an institutionalized one, but a real one, independent of any Church and uncontaminated by any clergy. Irene's journey into her private sainthood has then to be tempered by the realization of the realities of the world's suffering, the need for it, and the impossibility of preventing it, or indeed of even ameliorating it significantly on any but a miniature scale. The subtle psychological forces at work in Irene's background, her discovery of the truth about her mother whom she barely knew, of the truth about her manipulative aunt who brought her up, of how to reconcile her business life with her newly-awakened spiritual life, make this one of the most significant films for many years. Ozpetek is struggling with the biggest issues here, and he manages to avoid affectation or the falsifying of realities. Even Benny, who precipitates the changes in Irene, was an admitted thief, albeit of a Robin Hood variety, and perfection was far from her nature. Ozpetek is interested in studying the possibilities not of idealized sainthood, such as that purveyed by the Catholics in their fantasies, but of sainthood in a real world by real people engaged with their surroundings, and who are the very opposite of the meditative recluses idealized by institutional religion. You could call this film 'Sainthood in Action', so opposite is it to the phoney sainthoods of the churches. What Ozpetek has discovered here in the West in this fable of his is an old Buddhist tradition of the Boddhisattva, a being who could move on beyond all this but chooses to remain, in order to help. Above all, this study makes 'depth psychology' look superficial, for Ozpetek has descended so far into the secret hearts of us all that he is deeper than deep, he is truly and wholly de profundis as he cries out and wishes to show us what miracle he has found in the depths.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

25 February 2005 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Sacred Heart See more »

Filming Locations:

Naples, Campania, Italy See more »


Box Office


EUR6,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

R&C Produzioni See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


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