13 July 2006 | DAHLRUSSELL
An epic romance from post war Italy.
I have rated this film 9 because of it's length, there are some ponderous moments, but otherwise it is a 10. Italian cinema was still having growing pains from the war, but this epic succeeds, and skillfully incorporates the war torn landscape into this tale of an earlier war. The music score is very big and melodramatic, but fitting. The film opens with an opera in an enormous opera house, and this is fitting for the grand scale and operatic scope of this romance and the background. This is "Gone With the Wind" - Italian style - with a much more sympathetic heroine.
I am a fan of Alida Valli and have sought out her work. Perhaps because this is in her native Italian, and/or because of her Italian director, she is a full, vital, feminine woman in this film; very different from her more restrained work in America. (Her breathtaking performance in "The Paradine Case" is a study in austerity and an almost masculine stillness.) I had hoped that we would see a more free actress in her native language, and we do! She flutters and tosses her hair, she is a Countess reveling in her earthy affair. This is a full bodied performance.
Farley Granger's performance, whether in response to Valli, or just given a really meaty bad-boy to play, is a total revelation. He is lusty and sexy, provocative, pouty and passionate. In one scene, he greets her by wordlessly grabbing her hand and almost devouring it with kisses. This is a rare film where both the woman AND the man have real powerhouse roles. The confrontation scene at the end is gripping.
A small but pivotal role is played by Marcella Mariani. Her cow-like leadenness, laced with sisterhood, bespeaks a worldliness that, paired with her ethereal youthful beauty is just wrenching. All supporting roles, especially the maids, are interesting and give a sense of intrigue throughout.
A previous reviewer mentioned that the outcome of a major plot point is cut out, which leaves you wondering... "but what happened with that?" Still, the major story is the romance, which I think will be satisfying for men as well as women, because both sides are given such full emotional life. IF YOU CAN FIND IT, it is an enjoyable, big emotion, epic wartime romance.