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Besieged

  • Film
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Time Out says

Shandurai (Newton), an African refugee in Rome, pays her way through medical school as a live-in cleaner for English pianist and composer Kinsky (Thewlis). Shy and timid, he woos her with gifts and music, but she rejects his overtures; her husband's a political prisoner in her homeland, she says. Kinsky responds with an act of love simple, profound and pivotal. Like Welles' The Immortal Story, this is a beautiful cameo from a mature artist. The scale doesn't signify a retreat - unless love is counted a minor theme - but it does seem to have had a liberating effect on the director, who embellishes a piquant short story by James Lasdun with dazzling mise en scène: delirious travelling shots, jumpcuts and an innovative soundtrack, all edited with seamless flair. This is cinema with music's fluid purity of form - indeed, it runs for 15 minutes before Bertolucci has recourse to anything so base as the spoken word. Kinsky plays Bach and Mozart; Shandurai, Salif Keita and Youssou N'dour. Some may find it pretentious, but Thewlis (clumsy, remote, rarefied) and Newton (contained, honestly bewildered) provide innumerable points of entry. It's a film about the limits of art, about civilization at this moment of flux, and about a gentle connection between a man and a woman.
Written by TCh

Release Details

  • Duration:94 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Screenwriter:Clare Peloe, Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Cast:
    • Thandie Newton
    • David Thewlis
    • Claudio Santamaria
    • John C Ojwang
    • Massimo de Rossi
    • Cyril Nri
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