"The least-effective first-date film since 'Audition'"
Imagine “The Night Porter” without the warmth and human kindness and you have the acclaimed Italian import “Don’t Move,” in which we are meant to sympathize with the tortured memories of a character so self-centered and hateful that even the most peaceful audience members will feel the urge to punch him in the face.This character is Timoteo (Sergio Castellitto, who also wrote and directed the film), a upper-crust surgeon who, as the film opens, learns that his beloved daughter has been in a serious accident and is undergoing emergency surgery at his hospital. While waiting for news of her condition, he has a series of flashbacks from about fifteen years later when his car broke down in a small rural town and the destitute Italia (Penelope Cruz) offered him the use of her phone. He gratefully repays this favor by violently raping her in a drunken haze before returning home to his impossibly glamorous wife (Claudia Gerini). The next day, he returns to Italia, apologizes profusely and then sort of rapes her again. Thus begins a twisted relationship in which Timoteo gets to relieve all of his tensions on poor Italia and she seems to gladly accept them. Inevitably, Italia gets pregnant and when Timoteo is about to confess everything to his wife before leaving her, the missus surprises him with an announcement of her own–an announcement that will lead to tragedy for Italia and vague discontent on Timoteo’s part for the loss of his favorite punching bag.<
Okay, I may be reading the film a little more harshly than Castellitto intended–then again, after reading the press notes that claim that the film is “perhaps the most existentially drawn sexual drama since ‘Last Tango in Paris” and which refer to Timoteo as “a sensitive, angst-ridden male soul in mid-life crisis” and Italia as “a wretchedly poor and lonely woman who has never experienced real love in her life,” maybe not. All I know is that there wasn’t a single moment in which I found Timoteo to be anything other than a colossal jerk–this wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing if Castellitto had figured out a way to make him an interesting jerk instead of the hateful thug that he comes off as.This is an even bigger shame when you begin to realize that “Don’t Move” also features the single best work to date from Penelope Cruz, proving that she is more than just an awesomely pretty face with a powerful and moving performance–so good, in fact, that it almost (but not quite) single-handedly makes the film worth watching just to see it.<