La Donna del Lago
Love, Hate and Dishonor / The Lady of the Lake
Manolo Bolognini for B.R.C. Produzione, Istituto Luce
directed by Luigi Bazzoni, Franco Rossellini
starring Peter Baldwin, Salvo Randone, Valentina Cortese, Pia Lindström, Pier Giovanni Anchisi, Ennio Balbo, Anna Maria Gherardi, Bruno Scipioni, Mario Laurentino, Vittorio Duse, Philippe Leroy, Virna Lisi
screenplay by Giulio Questi, Luigi Bazzoni, Franco Rossellini, based on a novel by Giovanni Comisso, music by Renzo Rossellini
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During off-season, writer Bernard (Peter Baldwin) returns to a little
village by a lake where the last time, Tilde (Virna Lisi), maid at the
hotel he staid in, took his fancy. But Tilde's not there anymore, and it
takes him quite a bit of investigating to find out that Tilde has died
since - most say it was suicide because of an unwanted pregnancy, but
eventually Bernard learns that her throat was slit, which suggests murder,
apparently. The whole thing has been hushed up though, and the only
(vague) clue here leads to Enrico (Salvo Randone), a once mighty man in
town who owns the hotel Bernard stays in, but both his reputation and the
hotel are in decline. Then Bernard receives messages from Adriana (Pia
Lindström), the catatonic wife of Enrico's son Mario, who wants to meet
him at night at the lake to give him some important information, but then
when he's supposed to meet her, she's found floating in the lake, dead.
Apparently, this only deepens the mystery, and soon Bernard has no idea
anymore if he himself will get out of it alive ...
In a handful
of sources, I've seen The Possessed be labelled
"proto-giallo" - and I think this at least somewhat misses the
point. That's not to say that giallo fans won't like this movie, after all
it's a pretty convoluted murder mystery with a conclusion nobody saw
coming ... it's just also so much more, it's a melancholic mood piece, an
incredibly sad, unfulfilled love story, a twisted morality play, as well
as an almost abstract deconstruction of the whodunnit genre as such. And
being all that, it's much less of a simple genre movie and much more of a
highly original work of art that really has to be experienced rather than
just watched, and it sure is a fascinating ride!