His Secret Life (2001)

 “I don’t know who he was.”

Antonia (Margherita Buy) and Massimo (Andrea Renzi), childhood sweethearts, have been married for 15 years, when he is suddenly killed. They appeared to have a happy, settled, and successful marriage, although there are warning signals that Antonia, a doctor, fails to see. Devastated by her loss, Antonia finds a clue that Massimo hid secrets from her. Through some detective work, she discovers that her husband had a long-term relationship with another man–the sultry, Michele (Stefano Accorsi).

his-secret-lifeHis Secret Life from director Ferzan Ozpetek (Facing Windows) raises some fascinating questions. How much do we ever really know anyone–especially if that person goes to considerable lengths to hide a certain side of their character? Massimo’s death becomes an opportunity for growth for Antonia. She’s rigid and often judgmental, and even her mother bemoans the fact that Antonia needs to ease up on her approach to life. When confronted with Michele’s band of friends, Antonia discovers a group who has largely been rejected by society, and yet they are totally accepted by each other. Massimo, who appears just briefly in the beginning of the film, remains an enigma to those who loved him best, and the film, thankfully, makes no effort to understand his motives. Instead the story largely concentrates on Antonia’s exposure to Massimo’s secret, the range of emotions she experiences when she learns the truth, and her reactions to the individualism expressed by the people she meets at Michele’s flat. Unfortunately, the film declines into a rather silly romance, and while the romance itself raises some serious questions about Antonia’s behaviour, the sell-out ending, ultimately, panders to naivety. In Turkish and Italian with English subtitles.

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Filed under Ferzan Ozpetek, Italian, Turkish

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