A beautiful, surprising and thought-provoking movie.
This movie was a complete surprise to me, in part because the English blurb is so short as to be almost misleading. I supposed it would be just a little criminal blackmail story, while in fact it is much, much more intriguing than that.
All three main characters, Tomek, Zazy and Marianna, are brilliantly written and very well portrayed, and the story truly takes its strength from the complex dynamics between them.
Zazy is a young girl so cute and clueless (?) that you are often led to think she's innocent of the whole plot, and her main crime is to be a bit moody and willful... except for a small, knowing sly grin she does at times that makes you sit up and wonder.
Marianna is wonderful. She begins as just a rich, somewhat arrogant woman in holiday in Italy, and you almost sort of want her to have some misfortune, but her character deepens and while the slightly arrogant rich-woman attitude remains, there is also a great humanity behind it, gradually revealed. One comes to really care for her as her acquiescence in Zazy's demands seems often due as much to a genuine care of her as to fear of exposure.
The character around which the story turns however, is ultimately Tomek, who is the darker driving force behind the blackmail plot and also the weak link in it. Tomek is both very loving and alarmingly unhinged, and as someone who has lived for years with a similarly dysfunctional person I can testify that the writing of it is awfully realistic and the acting eerily convincing, so much so that it was sometimes hard to watch (for me).
The plot takes a few unexpected turns, down to the very end and is often moved forward by the duality of Zazy's feelings for both Marianna and Tomek.
Like most European movies this does not have the polished, plasticky , all-pretty Hollywood look, but it is beautiful to watch anyway. The beginning in Riva del Garda has a beautiful location to play with, the actors are severely attractive, and the photography is lavish and sensual (the scenes where Zazy is day-dreaming of Tomek are particularly beautiful, and also very touching).
Certainly not what I would call a feel-good story, but a beautiful, surprising and thought-provoking movie, with wonderfully nuanced characters.
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