Ossessione (1943) – Luchino Visconti

DK Canada’s The Movie Book brings me a tale of love and jealousy as I settled in to take in Visconti’s Ossessione.

When a drifter named Gino (Massimo Girotti) arrives at a restaurant, he finds himself caught up in a romance with the repugnant owner, Giuseppe’s (Juan de Landa) wife, Giovanna (Clara Calamai).

Both characters are trapped in their lives, he wanders the road trying to find work, she trapped in a loveless, and disappointing marriage.  They fall for one another, but will their worlds let them be together.

Their relationship changes them, and the world they live in. The two begin to conspire to do away with Giuseppe. When the action is carried out and the two attempt to live their happily ever after, things do go the way they planned as guilt ruins their lives.

And soon enough, the law is on to them.

The film is based on James M. Cain’s novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and retains most of its plot, playing as a cross between a film noir and a dark romance. Touted as Italy’s first neo-realist film, it is also Visconti’s first.

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The two leads are not stunningly gorgeous, they are in fact very average looking people, adding to the realism of the tale. They perfectly bring to life the souls of two lonely and lost people who, for a time, find comfort and possibly love with one another, before life reasserts itself.

A solid and well-crafted film, there is no pretension to it. The realistic look of the film gives it an almost documentary feel, and there is a grittiness to it that mires the viewer in its emotions and characters.

The story has been revisited a number of times, all with varying degrees of success, but this, the first is well worth a watch.

There are glimpses of Italian countryside, as Gino ekes out his existence, and the film itself gives us a glimpse of how life and love was written about in the 30s and 40s. It’s an interesting film and was heavily censored by Italy’s fascist government, as it implied that the oppression of capitalism was what caused the two characters to stray from their established lives.

It’s a solid film, well paced, and acted, that takes into a sordid pair of lives, lives that are torn apart because they were forced into situations that neither of them could find a way out of.

This and other titles continue to expand my cinematic education, join me with your own copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book or find something else amazing to watch!

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