tirsdag 12. februar 2008

Un caso d'incoscienza

Italy, 1984

Directed by Emidio Greco

Cast: Erland Josephson, Rüdiger Vogler, Brigitte Fossey, John Steiner, Margaret Mazzantini, Claudio Cassinelli, William Berger, Daniela Poggi, Rada Rassimov, Agnes Nobecourt, Graziani Giusti, Giovanni Fago, Giuliana Calandra and numerous others

Here we have yet another rarely seen and discussed film. Set in 1934, the story follows an American journalist named Anderson (Rüdiger Vogler) on his quest to solve the mystery of what happened to Erik Sander (Erland Josephson), a Swedish millionaire who vanished without trace two years earlier. No one knows what happened to Sander but Anderson is determined to find out what happened to him and why. He talks to Sander’s friends, his business associates and his frosty daughter – many of whom seem to believe that Sander has taken his own life.

The missing millionaire

The narrative jumps back and forth in time as various characters connected to Sander relate their stories in long flashbacks – detailing the time period right before Sander’s disappearance. The most intriguing lead is that of Sander’s mistress, the beautiful but mysterious Elisabeth (Brigitte Fossey), whom Anderson soon ends up falling for. But is she telling him everything she knows?

The sleuthing journalist

This made-for-TV period piece should not be confused for a thriller. It’s a slow-moving drama with an emphasis on dialogue but it’s also a mystery film and of interest because of its highly impressive cast, which includes both renowned international stars as well as several veterans of Italian genre cinema.

One of the first things that strikes you while watching Un caso d’incoscienza (translation: A Case of Irresponsibility) is how marvelous it looks. The production values are very high, and director Emidio Greco shows an impressive eye for detail. The 1930s costumes, hairstyles and décor all look absolutely splendid and are beautifully captured by Franco Lecca’s gorgeous cinematography. Much of the film takes place onboard a cruise ship where Erik Sander has invited all sorts of friends and associates, and it is a true delight to enjoy the sight of the numerous flamboyant guests as they play cards, subathe on deck, or dance around in their elegant attires. Both the interiors and the exteriors are lush, and Greco’s film is certainly very easy on the eyes.

Terrific 1930s-style costumes

But while the film may look good visually, its dramatic impact isn’t quite as impressive. At 127 minutes, it is far too long for such a slowly-paced film, and the solution to its only driving narrative force – the mystery of what happened to Sander – is far too predictable. Once the end credits roll, it’s easy to be left with a slightly unsatisfactory feeling, thinking “was that it?” Yet, in spite of these reservations, the film still manages to work somehow – thanks largely to its impressive cast. Not surprisingly, renowned Swedish actor Erland Josephson does a fine job of bringing the idealistic and eccentric character of Erik Sander to life, and he receives solid support from Rüdiger Vogler and Brigitte Fossey, who are both wonderful as the determined journalist and the enigmatic mistress. Supporting cast is also impressive and includes the always welcome John Steiner, who exhibits both charm and authority as one of Sander’s closest friends; Sergio Martino favorite Claudio Cassinelli, who is convincingly arrogant as a suave fascist; and the ravishing Margaret Mazzantini, who is amusing as Sander’s snotty daughter, who annoys her father by falling for Cassinelli’s character.

The film boasts several familiar favorites – all draped in the film’s endless supply of splendid period costumes

Unfortunately, the very large cast is also full of redundant characters that make up Sander’s various friends aboard the cruise ship. Many of these are played by familiar and talented actors but have very tiny roles that don’t serve any purpose as they have little to no impact on the actual plot. The perhaps most irrelevant of the characters are the two young lesbians (played by Marie Signe Ledoux and Agnes Nobecourt) who decide to ditch their husbands and the get off the cruise to start a life together. What on Earth was the point of this? One of the lesbians even apologizes to Sander: “This isn’t about you, Erik.” Indeed it isn’t! This subplot doesn’t have anything to do with anything. And it’s not as if these lesbians were thrown in to spice up the proceedings, either. This is a TV movie after all – a love declaration followed by an affectionate pat on the cheek is the steamiest this lesbian affair ever gets.

A chaste lesbian subplot

This film was apparently never released in an English-dubbed version in spite of its international leads. Fortunately, the Italian DVD from RHV includes English subtitles so if you feel like giving Un caso d’incoscienza a spin, this is the way to go. Of course, this is definitely not a film that will appeal to everyone as it is quite long, slow-moving and predictable. Those seeking a thriller need not apply but more patient viewers may appreciate its strong cast and the beautiful aesthetics.

© 2008 Johan Melle

The cast:

Erland Josephson as Erik Sander

Rüdiger Vogler as Anderson

Brigitte Fossey as Elisabeth

John Steiner as Milton Tennyson

Margaret Mazzantini as Helga Sander

Claudio Cassinelli as Manlio Crivelli

William Berger as Stover

Daniela Poggi as Stover's mistress

Rada Rassimov as Sander's ex-mistress

Giovanni Fago as Professor Blondel

Marie Signe Ledoux as Alice

Agnes Nobecourt as Sara

Gianfranco Ombuen as The banker

Giuliana Calandra as Odette

Graziano Giusti as The meticulous man

Caterina Boratto as Meticulous man's wife

Veronica Lazar (left) as Claire

Odino Artioli as John & Roberto Bisacco as George

Claudio Spadaro as The film director

Filippo Degara as Alex

Beatrice Palme as Cruise ship passenger

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Anonym sa...

Daniel Poggi (La camionera está como un tren, 1982)