Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Innocence Abused

By David Luhrssen
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Although Italian director Luchino Visconti was a pioneer of the grungy, grit-and-all filmmaking style called neorealism, he also loved all things grand and operatic. His final film, L’Innocente (1976), was in the latter mode, a costume drama in the high style of ‘70s art house film. It’s out now on DVD.

Based on the novel by early 20th century author-adventurer Gabriele D’Annunzio, L’Innocente unfolds in a richly-appointed setting familiar to both the novelist and the filmmaker—the decadent world of the upper aristocracy. L’Innocente concerns Tullio (Giancarolo Giannini, seen recently in Quantum of Solace), a cold and selfish man unwilling to give up his mistress (Jennifer O’Neill) yet horrified to discover his wife’s affair with a prominent writer. A study in love and possession, cruelty and obsession, L’Innocente follows Tullio down a lavishly landscaped garden path to destruction.

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