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Don't Move

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Sergio Castellito's Don't Move is an aggravatingly overblown melodrama with a shallow, ugly, uninteresting brute for a main character. The successful novel on which the film is based, written by Castellito's wife and co-screenwriter, Margaret Mazzantini, takes the form of a first-person confession from Timoteo (Castellito) to his critically injured daughter, which may have lent his self-pitying account of his tragic affair with an impoverished street urchin, the bluntly named Italia (Penélope Cruz), a bit more pathos. Presented as a series of flashbacks inspired by a vision of Italia sitting outside the hospital in the rain, Don't Move inspires little sympathy for Timoteo's plight, and it's telling that the film presents both his mistress's woes (brought on by Timoteo) and his daughter's sad situation as conceivable punishment for Timoteo's transgressions. It would be one thing if it were solely the self-involved Timoteo who saw things in that way, but the filmmaker seems to empathize with this distorted view, offering its main character a perverse kind of redemption through the suffering of those he cares about. The film's style is encapsulated in the strenuously bombastic, overlong Italian power ballad that plays over the closing credits. Don't Move has received a lot of attention for Cruz's de-glamorized performance, her physical transformation into a poor, badly dressed, purportedly ugly woman. Cruz certainly works hard (she attains a certain aggressive lunatic fascination in the pivotal scene in which she dances spastically to a Terence Trent D'Arby song), but the seams show. Someday filmmakers will recognize that blackened teeth and bad makeup make beautiful actresses neither ugly nor brave. Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

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