Leonora, a prostitute, mourns the death by drowning years earlier of her daughter. She encounters a strange waif-like girl, Cenci, who bears a strong resemblance to her lost child. Cenci is herself struck by the great resemblance of Leonora to her own mother, whose death the mentally unstable Cenci has been unable to accept or even acknowledge. The two women quickly develop a symbiotic relationship, moving in and out of the illusion that each is the lost loved one of the other. The complicating factor is the arrival of Albert, Cenci’s stepfather, whose incestuous attachment to her may well be the cause of her mind’s unbalance. With Albert’s arrival, no one in the strange trio is safe.
Beautifully dark movie which grants Mia Farrow the freedom to showcase the strange range of her gift. Elizabeth Taylor stays close with a deep and sensitive touch, flashing a legitimate side of herself, oft covered up. Robert Mitchum achieves repulsive perfection lurking in the garden, symbolic of the disgust and fear we share in our hide. The entire cast in breath and stone include every sense in totality, placing the actors and ourselves together to spy on each other from above, and within the ornamental mansion. Intense hallucinogenic 1968 camera shots intimately portray the family by chance’s horrific existence. The music tastefully gentle dries the humid landscape making its absurd subconscious logic almost digestible. The story weaved with such expertise, it would be a stab in the back to reveal it any other way. The truth that you always expected was rampant, but waited for the excuse of insanity to reveal. In my opinion, one of the most tragically honest all around performances I have ever witnessed on the screen. A true feat and gutsy effort from the entire bloody pool of talent. Bravo!
Subtitles:English, French (srt)