An upper class doctor cheats on his beautiful society wife with a plain, destitute Albanian/Italian girl.
Italian director/star Sergio Castellitto deserves great credit for toning down the melodrama in wife Margaret Mazzantini's novel and producing a very human story about chance, choice and consequence – even if he does indulge his doctor character in a couple of unlikely moments of medical madness.
He also draws a sensitive performance from Penélope Cruz as the Albanian-Italian who provides his character with the passion missing from his outwardly perfect marriage. But while their chic-trash chemistry is appealing, it would still be something of a potboiler– flashing back from Castellitto's anxious wait for news of his daughter following a traffic accident – without its melancholic cinematography, which vanquishes much of the colour from the medic's conflicted world.
What the film lacks in plot and substance, it makes up for in performance and character. Not easy viewing, but worth the effort.
Reviewed by Patrick Peters