Von Trotta uses Chekhov's sorority tale as a springboard, transposing the scene from Russia to a chilly and autumnal Italy. It opens with a funereal party following the death of the sisters' adored father. A guest, oleaginous lecturer Massimo (Simonischek) is the catalyst in their lives. The eldest, Velia (Ardant), also an academic, embarks on a shrewd and, she thinks, open-eyed affair; Massimo swiftly passes on to younger, sillier Maria (Scacchi). The thinly sketched youngest, Sandra (Golino), is bent on a medical career. It's a Euro production: multi-lingual cast puréed in a blender and poured out like glop. Every landscape is swathed in mist, buildings are clad in crumbling stucco, interiors dusty-creamy, and the actresses wear wool. There's a creditable ease and willingness just to let the women's story unroll, to let their beautiful, characterful faces tell the tale as negative gently turns to positive. Whiffs of testosterone, in the form of Simonischek and Castellito (hauntingly desperate as cuckolded brother Roberto), however loathsome/interesting, are seen strictly through female eyes. A muffled subplot concerns nuclear fears and student unrest, but you'd hardly notice.
Cast and crew
|Director:||Margarethe von Trotta|
|Screenwriter:||Dacia Maraini, Margarethe von Trotta|