"Il Sole Nero" [Eng. Title: Black Sun] is the only film I've seen so far from much awarded Polish Director Krzysztof Zanussi, so am ill-equipped to write anything about his filmography for the moment. I'll therefore restrict myself to writing about this Italian film for its own sake.
Agata and Manfredi are a newly married Sicilian couple. Manfredi is younger by close to ten years, but they're both in love. And Agata is already planning for a child, but Manfredi prefers having her all to himself for some more time before becoming a family. When Manfredi is murdered, Agata's behaviour undergoes a change that worries her psychologist and authorities investigating the murder. Her love for Manfredi turns into something approaching religious faith - she sometimes has visions of him beside her and even talks to him. But she hasn't altogether taken leave of her senses either - she wants to find the murderer and ask him why he did it, before she could decide her destiny...
This is a strange film - it's an attempted neo-noire with elements of melodrama thrown in. I think it is the melodramatic elements that spoil the film, particularly the ending, which could have been a bit more imaginative. But technically this film is well made - notably in its production design. The radiant cinematography and lighting uses warm colours in keeping with the film's concept. As for the screenplay and characterisation however, it lacks depth, and some of the casting choices don't help matters. The gorgeous Valeria Golino nevertheless gives a sincere performance, and it is purely for her that I would recommend this film. I'd like to believe that Mr. Zanussi had done better films, and I look forward to exploring more of his work.
Amazon.it DVD Link
Compilation: Valeria Golino and Lorenzo Balducci
Most of these scenes happen at the very beginning of the film, almost in succession. Newly married Agate and Manfredi are practically in the nude in all these post and pre-coital scenes, and I believe the director was trying to establish their intense level of passion and intimacy through these scenes in order to justify Agata's behaviour later on. They're nude even while on the balcony where they're likely to be seen from neighbouring windows, one of which unfortunately belongs to malcontent drug-addict Salvo. The couple talk about their love for each other, Agata compares him to an archangel, and she wants them to have a child, one that a twenty year old Manfredi is understandably not too keen on. Agata is played by the lovely Valeria Golino, and Manfredi by Lorenzo Balducci. In the final scene Agata is by the bath after a rendezvous with Manfredi's killer, symbolically cleansing wherever he touched her.