In one scene, a troupe of family members chat, sketch, and lounge in a sun drenched backyard while the camera follows each member of the family, capturing glimpses of their facial expression and bits of their conversations in what seems to be one endless take. While staying in Italy, she comes of age, learning the hard truths about first love, fidelity, innocence, and her budding sexuality. Alas, when the film was released it drew mixed reviews and failed to appeal to mainstream filmgoers. Much of the action takes place under the golden rays of a burning sun, showcasing a vivid color palette as rich as the fabric of the film itself.
In another scene, the camera pulls a similar track at a large outdoor celebration, this time using a few virtually seamless cuts to cover more territory and more people. Many of the best Italian films demand that you submit yourself completely to the vision of its director for the movie's duration, putting aside whatever standards or prejudices you have previously held true. With her pouty lips, big blue eyes and long legs, her unconventional beauty stems from her appearance as a perennial adolescent on the verge of womanhood. It is this element that adds to the film's distinctly cinematic flair, a trait that defines Italian cinema. Spoilers Some of the most memorable sequences in Stealing Beauty occur in group situations. These sequences, more than any other in the film, are representative of the essence of Stealing Beauty. It was also expected to resuscitate the career of legendary Italian director Bertolucci after the failure of his recent films. With notable exceptions, Italian films are often rightly or wrongly criticized for their emphasis on the role of the director over the importance of actor and screenplay. The film was photographed by Darius Khondji, whose visual sensibility was arguably the most recognizable and influential throughout the late s, and few times in Khondji's career has a director's style worked so beautifully with his images. Though it takes place in present day, the look of the film lends a distinctly nostalgic overtone to the proceedings, perhaps reminding one of a contemporary, European take on Summer of ' The Fellowship of the Ring, Tyler never jelled into the movie star the way most industry pundits predicted. It was believed, at the time, that the film could do for her Tyler in the summer of 96 what Clueless had done for Alicia Silverstone in the summer of both had rocketed to fame as a homoerotic duo in the Aerosmith video "Crazy". It is at once a drama, a comedy, a mystery, and a sex film. Like so many great Italian films, it merely flows from one scene to another, defying genre or perhaps even storyline. While staying in Italy, she comes of age, learning the hard truths about first love, fidelity, innocence, and her budding sexuality. Stealing Beauty is about as solidly structured as such a movement; it has no finite beginning, no middle, and an abrupt end. She achieves that rare feat of not simply reciting lines, but speaking them; it's a performance so clearly personal and passionate that one might think we were watching a wholly improvisational film. Both Bertolucci and Tyler are in top form here, and the film's unique success as a coming-of-age film despite completely defying the mechanics of the genre is an accomplishment in and of itself. Lucy Liv Tyler is an American who travels abroad to Italy to spend the summer with the friends of her recently deceased mother and their own extended family. Make such a commitment to Stealing Beauty, and the film is a smashingly effective work. In what had been heavily hyped as her star-making performance the film's disappointing critical and commercial reception hampered this prospect , Liv Tyler delivers what thus far remains the finest work of her career. Bertolucci's subsequent films were never even released in the United States, and aside from supporting roles in the blockbusters Armageddon and Lord of the Rings: In the case of Stealing Beauty, the latter is true but the former is not. Nonetheless, the film remains one of the most extraordinary Italian films of the s. When released in the summer of , Stealing Beauty was among the most highly anticipated films of the year for fans of art house cinema.
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