Dont Move, No te muevas
Running Time: 121 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: Spain, Italy, United Kingdom
As surgeon Timoteo (Sergio Castellitto) waits in anguish to see if his 15-year old daughter Angela (Elena Perino) will survive her injuries from a road accident, through the hospital window he happens to see a woman seated outside in the rain, triggering his memories of a sweltering summer many years ago, and a passionate, even violent affair which he conducted with the down-at-heel Italia (Penélope Cruz) behind the back of his elegant wife Elsa (Claudia Gerini) only to find his difficulties in deciding between the two women compounded when both fell pregnant at the same time. As his daughter lies in a coma, Timoteo struggles to come to terms with his loveless marriage, and the loss of Italia and her baby – until a strange miracle allows him to reconcile himself to the ghosts of his past.
'Don't Move', directed by (and starring) Sergio Castellitto, and adapted by him from his wife Margaret Mazzantini's novel of the same name, is a dark fairytale for adults, complete with deathly sleep, lost shoes, and a magical ending. In the performance of her career, Cruz dons fright make-up and prosthetic teeth to play the ugly duckling – but one can guess from the start (this is, after all, Penélope Cruz) that there is a beautiful swan within her just waiting to be brought out by a passing prince. Sure enough, up drives Timoteo – and despite his immaculate house on the coast, his smart wife and his comfortable bourgeois lifestyle, he finds himself, like the hero of 'Trop Belle Pour Toi', drawn back repeatedly to Italia, literally slumming it in her verminous tenement.
Timoteo, however, is no Prince Charming, brutally raping Italia when they first meet, and thereafter stringing her along with his selfish, spineless indecision. Even without Leonard Cohen playing on the soundtrack, it would be clear that Timoteo is not a happy man – but it is difficult to sympathise with his self-inflicted dilemmas, or to understand why both his abused lover and his neglected wife are so happy to go on accepting this sort of treatment from him. Although the film resonates with Christian imagery (from its opening god's-eye-view shot of the accident, to an abundance of crosses), only Italia seems capable of anything like self-sacrifice, whereas Timoteo's most striking religious act is to adjust the crooked crucifix over Italia's bed just before he forces himself upon her on the living room floor. Certainly the contentment that he finds at the film's end rings more of self-justifying smugness than of anything like repentance or redemption.
With its brutal sex, high emotions, and conveniently life-threatening medical conditions, 'Don't Move' never strays far from the domain of conventional melodrama. It is to Castellitto's credit that he fastidiously avoids camp, instead maintaining throughout a tone of sombre melancholy (helped by bucketloads of noirish rain) – but even so, melodrama is a genre that is most effective in small doses, and after two hours the shrill operatics of 'Don't Move' assume a bludgeoning monotony that risks sending the viewer too into a coma.
It's Got: A striking opening aerial shot looking straight down on a rainy accident scene (evoking the beginning of Bliss); fantastically mobile camerawork and editing (ironic for a film of this title); intense performances; challenging characters.
It Needs: A marriage counsellor, a psychiatrist, and a considerably shorter duration.
Alternatives:Bliss, La Niña Santa, The Eye 2, Trop Belle Pour Toi
Penélope Cruz proves that she is more than just a pretty face in this overlong melodrama.