Tornatore made "La Sconosciuta" [Eng. Title: The Unknown Woman] after a gap of nearly five years, and boy was it worth the wait..! The story, the screenplay, the performances, not to mention the lyrical direction, and of course the superlative soundtrack by the legendary Ennio Morricone lifts this production to stratospheric heights. Kseniya Rappoport (credited as Ksenia Rappoport) playing the eponymous character looks twice the exquisite actress she already is, thanks largely to Tornatore and Morricone's team-up - a partnership that has obviously worked wonders over the years. The film inevitably bagged a bucket-full of awards including numerous David's the following year.
"La Sconosciuta" is the heart-rending story of Irena, a Ukrainian immigrant who goes through what can only be described as hell, whilst keeping faith that she could yet have a future. Sold to a thug called Mold (excellenty portrayed by veteran actor and director Michele Placido), and apart from being his plaything and punching bag, she's also prostituted and forced to make babies, to be sold to discerning childless couples. After escaping from Mold, she tries to track the last of her babies, and infiltrates a household as a maid. But her past will soon return to haunt her...
The scene below is an example of Tornatore's visual poetry - click on the image for sample clip.
I had reviewed this film elsewhere earlier, but this is a reappraisal and the compilation made from my DVD. Even though the one I purchased came with no extras, the film is every bit worth it. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!
Compilation: Kseniya Rappoport, Claudia Gerini, and others
- Irena's past is told through her oft-violent flashbacks. Here we see Irena being picked by a customer - the scene is quite possibly body-doubled.
- More flashbacks, as store guards frisk Irena after a faulty alarm at the counter goes off.
- Irena had broken into an apartment, and the concierge comes to see if all's well - he reports to the owner that she might have forgotten to switch the alarm on.
- Irena panics during a driving lesson - we're will soon learn why her erstwhile owner named her 'Georgia'.
- A heavily bruised Irena at the shower, followed by the gynaecologist informing her that she will no longer be able to bear a child.
- Irena with her owner Mold.
- A pleasant memory for change as Irena remembers Nello, her erstwhile boyfriend.
- Irena helps her mistress Valeria with a towel in the bathroom. She compliments her on her physical beauty, but also remarks that her body bears no signs of having given birth to a child.
Recommended DVD link: