Timoteo (Sergio Castellitto) is a surgeon. His 16 year old daughter, Angela (Elena Perino) lies in the operating theatre after an accident, between life and death, in the very hospital where he works, under the care of a fellow surgeon. As he waits anxiously, Timoteo relives a secret, strange and haunting extramarital affair that coincided with Angela's birth, with Italia (Penelope Cruz), a destitute young woman he met by accident. And now it's as if he wants to confess to Angela and find some redemption in the young girl's survival.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Don't Move as a phrase has so many connotations - yet none of them seem apt for a film that delves into that most unfathomable of aspects of the human experience: love. But then this film is not a love story that follows a predictable path, and has no predictable resolution, even though romantically it does centre on a threesome. Reduced to its story skeleton, Don't Move seems paltry to carry the weight of something worthwhile: a surgeon with a lovely middle class wife, Elsa (Claudia Gerini) gets entangled with a broken young woman, Italia (Penelope Cruz), and just as he's about to break off his marriage, both women fall pregnant.
Timoteo returns to this moment in his life 16 years later as his daughter lies at the edge of death in the operating theatre. In a moment of no consequence fate has caused her to crash on her motor scooter. Her trauma unleashes Timoteo's own hidden trauma from those many years ago, when he had to let go of Italia.
It's the depth of the writing and the truth of the direction and performances that bring Don't Move out of the shadows of melodrama into the glow of genuine drama. I haven't read Margaret Mazzantini's novel, but her husband's adaptation is a powerful evocation of those mysterious forces that make humans so complex, needy, weak, noble and elastic. The flashbacks are signposted with a minimum of fuss: Timoteo now has a slightly salt & peppery beard, a touch of grey in his hair, but nothing more. In the flashbacks his hair is all dark.
As he relives the turbulent affair with Italia, we are taken inside this unexpected romance, a romance that even defies the term. It begins with another motor vehicle incident, when his car breaks down in a desolate suburb and after a stint at a bar waiting for a mechanic, during which Timoteo drinks too much vodka, she offers him the use of her phone. He uses more than her phone and so begins their odd, but passionate affair, never really understood by either party. There are moments of torment and pain, and there is no golden glow or soft breeze or sensuous music. Italia's troubled life forms a backdrop on one hand, with Timoteo's emotional absence from his wife forming a counterpoint on the other. These moments are superbly directed with Claudia Gerini conveying all the ambiguities of a wife who senses things are wrong but can't locate the problem.
Penelope Cruz is astonishing as the melancholy, life-battered Italia, totally lost in the character both physically and emotionally.
Castellitto's own performance is vigorous and emotionally effective, as he swings from his tormented persona in the present to love-stricken one in his past. The subtlety of the film belies its intensity and the final resolution is poetic, but in a restrained, satisfying way.
Review by Louise Keller:
A reflective, poetic portrait of a man countering his emotional demons, Don't Move is a haunting, often thought provoking film invigorated by an electric performance by Penelope Cruz. Sensitively directed by its co-star Sergio Castellitto (Mostly Martha) who also co-wrote the script with his wife Margaret Mazzantini, this is a film that reduces emotions to their core. Rain is the metaphor for tragedy, pain, grief. A striking aerial opening shot shows rain teeming down from high in the heavens. The tops of umbrellas twirl on the rain-drenched street, like an individual oasis, and as the camera pans down, we see the ambulance, the stretcher and a forlorn red helmet lying abandoned.
The structure jumps from the present to the past as fluidly as our minds might flit to memories in our past. At times we are confused and unsure of the significance or in which time frame we are. It is not until the story's end that all the pieces mesh together like a picture puzzle that is the sum of many small images and thoughts. One single trigger can re-open a world that has been carefully locked away, taking us again into a past prickly with thorns. With its concise script and searing close ups accentuating every nuance and expression, our journey is an emotional one.
Two women and a man, a teenager struggling for life, a woman sitting on a chair in the rain, a young girl violated, an abandoned young boy.... these are the characters we meet. As we dip in and out of the past, we are always brought back to the present by the pounding, rhythmic beating of a heartbeat.
Cruz inhabits the very essence of Italia with a gritty determination and fervour. As the other woman, she is the little lamb that's lost in the wood, searching for the shepherd who'll watch over her. Castellitto's Timoteo is a man devoured by his demons. On the surface he has it all - a beautiful wife and daughter and a successful career. But he is a paradox: a skilled and respected surgeon meticulous with procedure on one hand, but he can suddenly succumb to a wild, passionate side that even he doesn't understand. Italia and Timoteo meet by chance in the middle of nowhere, and there's a sense of urgency about their first encounter. The ensuing encounters change in tone - tenderness replacing passion and violence. Recently seen in Mel Gibson's The Passion, Claudia Gerini beautifully portrays Timoteo's perfect wife Elsa. 'How little we tell each other,' she says revealingly to her husband.
There are powerful and heartbreaking scenes as Timoteo faces his crisis - both in the present and the past. From the joy of the scene when two people exchange vows over red wine and pecorino to the sadness of a relationship that is over. Life, death, love and remorse blend together in an intricate and complicated web. Melancholy, gripping, stimulating and potent, Don't Move explores life's imponderable emotional complexities
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DON'T MOVE (MA)
Non ti muovre
CAST: Sergio Castellito, Penelope Cruz, Claudia Gerini, Marco Giallini, Pietro De Silva, Vittoria Piancastelli, Elena Perino
PRODUCER: Ricardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini, Marco Chimenz
DIRECTOR: Sergio Castellitto
SCRIPT: Margaret Mazzantini, Sergio Castellitto (novel by Mazzantini)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gianfilippo Corticelli
EDITOR: Patrizio Marone
MUSIC: Lucio Godoy
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Francesco Frigeri, Isabella Rizza
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 11, 2004