"Don't Move"(aka, "Non Ti Muovere")
This film could be marked as the one in which Penelope Cruz returns to the kind of role she was made for. Without the big studio trappings, she delivers a biting role as a cleaning woman trying to hang on to the bare necessities of life, like her apartment, while falling into deep, dependent love with a man who rapes her.
The story is told in a series of flashbacks and, oddly, is set into motion in both time periods by the action of cars. In the present day instance, a car fails to stop at a stoplight on a rainy day, sending 15-year old Angela (Elena Perino) flying off her motorbike and into the hospital for surgery. When a nurse realizes who the young victim is, she pulls Timoteo (Sergio Castellitto), the girl's father out of the operating room in which he's performing a surgery of his own.
Greatly distressed by the event and the magnitude of the injuries, he phones his wife Elsa (Claudia Gerini) and waits, leaving his daughter's surgery in the hands of a trusted colleague. He stares out a window and conjures a woman sitting alone in the rain below, an image that brings back memories of the day around 16 years before when his car broke down in a squalid neighborhood and he also needed to find a phone to call his wife.
Italia (Cruz), a local woman, informs him that most public phones in the area don't work and offers the use of her home phone. He follows her to her apartment in a house destined to be torn down, where she lives alone. He tries to call his wife but there's no answer. Instead of verbally thanking the good samaritan, lust overcomes him and he rapes her.
When Elsa arrives in the real time part of the story, we see her to be nothing less than gorgeous and classy. We discover that she's a caring parent and perfectly happy in her marriage. But the forbidden fruit that Timoteo has tasted caused him, in the past, to return to Italia. The second time the sex has a violent edge but it isn't forced. As he returns more and more, it's evident that she wants him to. He has taken a lover.
The drama of emotional dilemma plays out between past and present, each giving insight and clarity to the other. Elsa doesn't suspect her husband's infidelity, even though sexual interludes are few and far between. But they do occur. When Timoteo returns to Italia one day, he learns that she has aborted her pregnancy. Devastated, he promises to tell Elsa about them and end the marriage. But Elsa has some news of her own. Though she earlier felt the marriage was fine without a child, she delights in the fact that she's pregnant. Any thought of divorce is off and the relationships settle in.
All this goes on against the backdrop of Angela's life or death struggle and Timoteo's struggle with the past that led up to it. If he weren't an intelligent and sensitive man, and if the performances weren't so powerful, this could easily have wandered into steamy melodrama. Director Castellito's realistic shadings carry enough sense of poignancy that it takes you into its serious, well-crafted grip. He adapted the screenplay from the novel of the same name by Margaret Mazzantini and is, itself, novel-like in complexity and emotional nuance.
This is art house fare, to be sure, but worthy of wide attendance if, for no other reason, than to see what Cruz is capable of when not under the wing of Stephen Frears ("Hi-Lo Country"), Billy Bob Thornton ("All the Pretty Horses"), Ted Demme ("Blow"), and Cameron Crowe ("Vanilla Sky"), American directors who have seen less viscerally earthy attributes in the international star. With this material she turns in one of her truest performances.
(as "Non Ti Muovere")
(as "Non Ti Muovere")