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Customer Review

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mesmerising account of romantic endangerment, September 21, 2000
This review is from: Besieged (DVD)
Bernardo Bertolucci (Academy Award winner for "Last Emperor") presents here a lovingly crafted, sensuous and meticulous drama of romantic conflict. Thandie Newton portrays an African refugee in Rome, a medical student and live-in cleaner for an eccentric English pianist (David Thwelis.) She rebuffs him when he makes overtures to her, only to discover that he selflessly devoted himself to bribing his way by pawning his possessions (including his treasured piano) so as to guarantee the freedom of her husband, imprisoned by her country's repressive regime. The serene tale unfolds with a quiet sensitivity to its conclusion. The understatement of the treatment, as opposed to the melodrama of mainstream films dealing with such issues, is nothing short of masterful. The uses of silence, visual metaphor and piano solos, besides hinting at the psychological inner worlds of the characters, set the pace of the film: there is no preaching, but only suggestion. This is not a film for a mass audience, who may regard it as heavygoing, but a literary work of the Henry James stamp seamlessly transposed into film. The minimal dialogue invites the criticism that the director may have no ear for the language, but the terse, static exchanges have an almost monumental power. The photography is outstandingly atmospheric and the performances are first-rate.
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