Guest Review by Mario.
A young Man Tino (Danilo Matei) arrives in Venice to study arts locally while he is staying at the mansion of his Uncle and Aunt. Not very long after his arrival he hears strange sounds coming from a room upstairs. Wondering what is the source of this, his Aunts first tells him that it’s "nothing" and that he shouldn’t bother to investigate further. The old housemaid soon reveals the truth that here is indeed somebody living upstairs in the room. It is the mad brother of his uncle who is sort of locked in the room since some time, and is never leaving it. Through a peephole it is possible to take a look at the lunatic brother, which is all shown through a fish lens.
The housemaid tells him that only his brother is allowed to enter the room and is taking care of him. Meanwhile it is also revealed that Tino´s Aunt is suffering from the strong-minded and tyrannical remarks of his uncle.
Although the novel on which "Anima Persa" is based on is set in Trieste, if I am not mistaken it was a good decision to relocate the setting to Venice as it’s on a cinematographic level a far more interesting place. Additionally it underlines the subtle morbid and mysterious tone of the dramatic story perfectly. Like the beautiful facade of Venice, both main protagonists (Vittorio Gassman and Catherine Deneuve) appear to be "normal" people, but there is something hidden behind the facade of the heal world that crumbles. Something that is morbid... a tragedy that happened in their past that first is only revealed step by step till the final and surprising conclusion.
Somebody shouldn’t mistake this movie for a "giallo" as it is mentioned so in a reference book, I would rather say that this is more of a mysterious and peculiar drama instead. But this "liberal" mentioning of the movie might surely be forgiven as possibly I wouldn’t have stumbled across this movie otherwise...
Vittorio Gassman gives a splendid performance, he portrays here a sort of "strong" egocentric character, totally convinced of his ideals and beliefs who makes quite an impression on Tino. Catherine Deneuve is also quite good in her role. For some reason I couldn’t stand her before but in this case she has convinced me.
The Atmosphere of this movie is great, the house where they live, is an "old school antiquarian" villa (it can be said that the protagonists belong to a "bourgeois" upper class) which is impressive. As Venice, it is a sort of hermetic world from "yesterday" where the time has seemingly stood still, and which is entered by the juvenile and naive Tino who could be considered to be from the "present". Somebody who will be introduced to a somehow different world...
Venice was the ideal stage and background for various movies as "Who saw her die?", "Bloodstained Shadow", "Damned in Venice", "Don’t look now". These movies that deal with murder, mystery (and partially supernatural elements as "Damned in Venice") are in good company with "Anima Persa".
Altough there is a clear difference that "Anima Persa" is focused much more on a character development, surely on a psychological level
as one of the themes of the movie is "madness"..
It is another example of an alternative Venice that clearly goes beyond the clichees of the idyllic tourist-postcards..
Baroque, poetic, melancholic are some of the keywords who would fit to this magical and beautifull film, that stays with you after the end credits are over.
Anima persa(Italy/France, 1977)Directed by Dino Risi
Written by Dino Risi, Bernardino Zapponi
Based on a novel by Giovanni Arpino
Starring: Vittorio Gassman, Catherine Deneuve, Danilo Mattei