Don’t Move

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Movie Review by Dan Spiers

Starring: Penelope Cruz, Sergio Castellitto, Claudia Gerini, Angela Finocchiaro
Director: Sergio Castellitto

In DON’T MOVE, co-written, directed by and starring Sergio Castellitto, a surgeon, Timoteo (Castellitto) is interrupted whilst performing an operation to be told his daughter has been involved in a traffic accident and lies, critically ill, only meters away.

Alone due to the absence of his wife on business, Timoteo engages in a one way conversation with his daughter, reliving a tumultuous affair which took place prior to her birth.

The film subsequently falls into prolonged flashback sequences interspersed with returns to Timoteo’s bedside vigil. Only when his daughter’s surgery is complete do the separate narratives conclude.

Castellitto has confessed to contemplating his own death during the filming of this movie, and due to the extent of his character’s self loathing, this comes as no surprise. He is a fraud, who, weak of mind and utterly impotent, is unable to end a passionless marriage that appears built on the twin pillars of social expectation and material wealth.

Teetering on the emotional brink, Timoteo loses control when his car breaks down on his journey home from work. Befriended by a local barmaid, Italia (Penelope Cruz), he retreats from the midday sun to make a call from her home.

What ensues is contentious territory, for not only does Timoteo rape Italia, but he rapes her on subsequent occasions, before a prostitute and client relationship ensues and finally a mutual infatuation.

This process, the foundations upon which the movie is built, is disturbing, but ultimately true to the emotional torpor of both characters. Although poles apart they share an affliction and the ability to offer liberation from circumstances they believed to be inescapable. The scene in which they emerge together from emotional hibernation, eyes wide, feeling for the first time, is beautifully realized.

The performances of Castellitto and Cruz are excellent. Cruz is unrecognisable and more importantly convincing as a bow legged, emotionally anaesthetised victim. She manages to exude a quiet desperation, whilst emanating a warmth of spirit and genuineness of character that drives Timoteo over the edge. Thereafter of course, those very same qualities lead to his obsession and the couple’s doomed love affair.

What stands out during the course of the movie is the objectivity of both the writing and direction. Neither seeks to criticise characters for their actions, rather they maintain a commitment to neutrality. Timoteo may be a selfish, lying, rapist who cheats on his wife and deceives his mistress but whilst he wreaks havoc to those closest to him, he is ultimately another human trying to find a partner to hack a trail to happiness with.

Whether this moral and emotional neutrality is to be commended or not is solely down to the individual, but crucially what Castellitto does is credit the audience with the intelligence to decide. By turns challenging and rewarding, DON’T MOVE is worthy of attention.

4 out of 6 stars