Come Undown (2009) dir. Silvio Soldini
Starring: Alba Rohrwacher, Pierfrancesco Favino and Teresa Saponangelo
By Alan Bacchus
Two ordinary, seemingly normal people start an affair. It's a familiar story we‘ve seen before, but one which always seems to make for good cinema. After all, if done right we get to live vicariously in the lives of people who fall victim to their carnal desires, but without suffering the pains of the damage which always occurs.
Co-writer/director Silvio Soldini doesn't break new ground with Come Undone, a modest Italian festival traveller, but a pair of completely accessible and grounded performances, including smoldering red hot chemistry bordering on alchemy by his two leads makes this a marvelous little gem.
Anna is a middle class gal with a loving husband. Nothing's particularly wrong in her life, but like a random strike of lightening, or cupid arrow if you will, she falls victim to the coy flirtations of a handsome caterer. Domenico is the caterer, a working class charmer struggling to make ends meet supporting his wife and two children. The build up to their first sexual encounter is well played. A couple of meetings, and even a couple of attempts at consummating fail. Their inability to get together, both due to their jobs and their domestic situations has the sexual tension is bursting at the seams. But eventually they do finally get a room and merge as one in sexual splendor.
It can't be all bliss and we know something has to go wrong. And it's Anna who turns into the crazy stalker bitch when she turns up unexpectedly at Dom's scuba class, a turn which perhaps comes too suddenly and betrays the sensabilities and accessibilies of the characters. The film threatens to fall into Fatal Attraction territory, but thankfully Soldini regains his footing and charts the course of the demise of their relationship with real world believability.
The love scenes are arousing but natural without being stylized in an Adrian Lyne sort of way. The couple have sex passionately and we feel the cathartic feeling of them being together. To compliment the mood the motel room is lit with warm yellows and reds, contrasted with the coolness of their outside world.
Melodrama is kept to a minimum, instead Soldini lets his actors gain our trust. We're strictly in their characters' point of view, and though they're commiting heinous acts of adultery we feel their pain and anguish of the illicitness of their affair.We feel the pressures of the domestic lifestyle they have put themselves into, and the trueness of their love they just can't express outside of their bedroom.
There's a scene towards the end showing Anna and Domenico waiting for their bags in an airport. They are embracing one another causally, with physical skin on skin contact and gentle naturally carassing of their hands together, subtle but dramatic realization of their true love for one another. Come Undone succeeds because of moments like these.
'Come Undone' is the November selection for the DVD-of-the-Month club. Visit http://www.filmmovementcanada.com/ to sign up.