Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Sophia's Human Voice

I had been waiting to see that short film (20 minutes) which Sophia Loren made last year, aged 80, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti - THE HUMAN VOICE. Its the old Jean Cocteau play about a woman on the telephone to her lover who is deserting her, which was done previously by the likes of Anna Magnani and Ingrid Bergman. Now, here is Sophia doing it.   It had no screenings here but then I found out that it is a dvd extra on the Criterion Collection new issue of A SPECIAL DAY - Sophia's highly-regarded 1977 film with Marcello, directed by Ettore Scola (who also directed that terrific comedy THE PIZZA TRIANGLE with Marcello, Vitti and Giannini).

This A SPECIAL DAY turns out to be a perfect package for Loren completists - not only HUMAN VOICE but also a new interview with Scola and with Loren recorded this year (she is wearing red as usual) AND an hour long Dick Cavett interview (in two parts) from 1977 with both Sophia and Mastroianni (left, at the '77 recording) - we never saw those Cavett shows here so this is a rarity indeed.
Set against the backdrop of Naples, Italy, in 1950, this romantic drama tells the story of Angela, (played by Sophia Loren), a woman in the twilight of her years who rides the emotional roller coaster of her last telephone conversation with the man she loves as he is leaving her for another woman.
It is an enthralling little film, as Loren talks on the phone while her maid makes the weekly parmigiana dish for the lovers, only this time he is not turning up. The woman's desperation is obvious until she finally accepts the reality. Sophia rises to the occasion splendidly and is as compelling as ever. 
If it is her last performance it is a fitting cap to one of the great international careers. It is a nice gift too from a son to his mother, the one setting is intercut with snatches of happier times and seeing the older Loren looking out over the bay of Naples has its own resonance. 

A SPECIAL DAY too looks great here, I had not seen it for some time, both stars are wonderful here, Marcello playing a gay persecuted journalist and she the dowdy housewife, both are left behind in their apartment block as everyone goes to see the Mussolini parade - in 1930s Rome. A fascinating period piece. 
This Criterion issue is both Blu-ray and DVD, but only available for Region 1 - I had to order it from Barnes & Noble in New York. 

No comments:

Post a Comment