Film review – La Sconosciuta

Giuseppe Tornatore directed two of my favourite films ever: Cinema Paradiso and Stanno Tutti Bene. When we moved out of the civilised world of London to the countryside – but before the advent of mail order, download DVDs and in-house cinemas – we lost the opportunity to see non-multiplex movies. Over the last couple of years, we have been catching up with those films we have missed in the last decade.

This film has multiple names. The italian is “La Sconosciuta”. We watched a DVD called “The Unknown Woman”. It’s known on IMDB as “The Unknown”, presumably the US title.

Tornatore has chosen to write a film about one of the long-term outcomes of sex trafficking. By any means available to her, Ukranian ex-prostitute Irena inveigles herself into an Italian family. Bit by bit (through plot and flasback) you learn about her story.

Stating the obvious, this is a much less commercial subject than nostalgia for old cinema and travel across modern day Italy! Tornatore attempts to give it a more commercial angle by introducing a baddies after the heroine angle. In my view, this part doesn’t really work; in fact, it veers towards the unbelievable.

Where the film is very good is in the framing of the images and the editing (as you would expect from previous works). I can’t think of many directors who would produce beautiful images of those huge rubbish tips. It’s a tragedy that he has produced so few films. Another element which works well is the suspension of plot development; unlike so many films (where you know the plot from the poster or even the title), you just don’t know where this film is going. Personally, I also like way in which Irena is presented; she’s not very nice when she is young and, while you have sympathy with her later in her life, the selfishness remains the predominant feature of her personality. The acting by Kseniya Rappaport and others is truly excellent.

8 out of 10. There’s a lot good about it.

One response to this post.

  1. The guys in the film admit through their words that its sad too. Cale Blu-Ray


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