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STEALING BEAUTY, 1996
Movie Review

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STEALING BEAUTY MOVIE POSTER
STEALING BEAUTY, 1996
Movie Reviews

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Starring: Liv Tyler, Sinead Cusack, Donal McCann, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Jean Marais, Roberto Zibetti, Francesco Siciliano
Review by Nina Katungi



SYNOPSIS:

Lucy Harmon, American girl in her late teens, is off to spend her summer with family friends in beautiful Tuscany, Italy. She sets off with hope of finding herself, solving the mystery of who her father is, and re-kindling a previous summer crush. This turns out to be a summer that Lucy will never forget.

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REVIEW:

Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci created this soft and sensual piece. He is well-known for making films with strong political messages and an uncensored sexual nature. “Stealing Beauty” may just be one of his quieter projects though. It’s a coming of age story set in a beautiful backdrop and brought to life with an array of eccentric and artistic personalities. Perhaps this softer side came from the film’s co-writer Susan Minot. Minot is a successful and published writer. Bertolucci contacted Minot and asked if she would be interested in co-writing this story together. Minot has showed an interest in writing screenplays for a while now and Bertolucci’s offer may just have been what she was waiting for. Since, Minot has written one other screenplay “Evening”, which she adapted from her own novel with the same name.

Lucy Harmon is invited by her late mother’s friends, British expatriates Diana Grayson (Cusack) and Ian Grayson (McCann), to spend the summer with them in their Tuscan villa. Ian is a sculpture and has promised to sculpt a piece using Lucy as his subject. Lucy turns up at this beautiful rustic villa surrounded by an endless sea of grass plains. This isn’t the first time Lucy’s been here. She was here four years ago where she met Nicolo Donati (Zibetti), her first kiss and her first love. Lucy returns with two specific goals in mind, to discover the identity of her father and to lose her virginity to Nicolo.

Lucy is not the only guest staying at the villa, Miranda Fox (Weisz), Ian and Diana’s daughter is visiting with her American husband D.W Moffett (Reed). Lucy finds these two by the pool, uninhibited, swimming and sunning in the nude. Another of their guests is Alex Parish (Irons) a dear and very sick friend of theirs. Lucy is Alex’s new neighbour and he seems delighted to have such a youthful and beautiful presence around. The two become close and find themselves taking on each others strength in particular times of need. The villa is alive with family, guests, and friends that live near by. There never seems to be a dull moment in sight. Lucy easily blends into the atmosphere around her. She becomes an addition to the warm, passionate, and sensual state of beings. Lucy’s hopes and dreams for the summer don’t exactly go to plan they actually turn out to be more than she even bargained for.

This was Liv Tyler’s first lead in a film and it is also said to be the one that started her career as an actress. She was definitely a perfect choice for this character. She has this beautiful and natural presence about her. She resonates from within and merely lightens up the screen. I do however miss her playing such characters like this and hope to see her take on something similar in the future. Jeremy Irons is great in everything that he does and continues to play a diverse set of roles in various amounts of different films, from “Lolita” to “Eragon”. This is also one of Rachel Weisz’s earlier films, her career didn’t officially take off until a few years later when she played “Evelyn Carnahan”, Brendan Fraser’s love interest in “The Mummy” and then after an array of blockbuster films she won an Oscar in 2005 for her role in “The Constant Gardener”. This film breathes with the talent of both well-known actor’s and newcomers to the screen. The cast is definitely one of the highlights to the film. Each actor seems perfect for the part they play and they all manage to display an equal brilliance in their performances.

I think I was about the same age as Lucy when I first saw “Stealing Beauty”. I remember the beautiful scenery, the colourful characters, the passion, and the young girl, Lucy, emotionally evolving into a young woman. I was mesmerised and completely taken with the film. This is how I want my scripts to translate on to the big screen. I want the emotions brought to life, I want the backdrop to create a sense of being, and I want all my characters to have significance and meaning. It was this type of film that I aspired and still aspire to create. “Stealing Beauty” is one of my absolute favourite films and it is my pleasure to recommend this piece to anyone, anytime, any day.

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