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  • Although I have never been entirely convinced by Pietro Germi as an actor there is no doubting his sympathic portrayal here of a married man who has to bear the tragic consequences of an extra-marital affair. He is a first class director of course and has given us a truly tender and heart rending film. The title is taken fom T.S. Eliot's poem 'We are the hollow men.....headpiece filled with straw.' He has gone down the tried and trusted route by using the same team in front of and behind the camera as he had in his previous film 'Man of Iron'. The excellent Luisa della Noce again plays his wife, Edoardo Nevola his son and Saro Urzi is the faithful friend. The last named would go on to win Best Actor at Cannes for his tremendous performance as the father in the same director's 'Seduced and Abandoned'. Leonida Barboni again contributes wonderfully atmospheric cinematography and Carlo Rustichelli a very touching score. The new addition is Franca Bottaia who gives a sensitive and haunting portayal as 'the other woman'. Germi certainly had a knack with actors. One wonders however why both della Noce and Bottaia were 'dubbed'. Surely their own voices were not that dreadful?! One of the mysteries of Italian post-production! The film ends with a wonderfully framed family'reconciliation' but of course things can never be quite the same again.
  • princehal19 October 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a very fine drama from Pietro Germi who is better known for his later comedies. It starts as a low-key family story eventually involving (reluctant) adultery on the husband's part. When he tries to break it off his lover won't accept that it's over, but rather than turning into Fatal Attraction it reaches a tragic conclusion that, in the best Italian tradition, acknowledges the messiness of life without blaming anyone. It also avoids the trap of reducing a woman's death to a vehicle for the protagonist's character development (as in The Hustler) - nobody learns any life lessons, just the irreversible consequences of a wrong decision.

    What is really extraordinary about the movie - something I don't recall seeing anywhere else - is the switch of narrators at the very end. The husband's voice-over has been telling the story throughout, until in the last scene the wife's voice takes over and gives her perspective on the outcome. I'm not sure if this is aesthetically "correct" but it seems to me a brilliant reversal of the usual privileging of the male point of view. Sometimes the rules just need to be broken.