A strongly empathetic performance by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi lends conviction to "Voices," vet Italo helmer Franco Giraldi's adaptation of Dacia Maraini's novel. Yet despite thesp's efforts and a solid supporting cast, this murder mystery is elevated from routine pot-boilerdom only by a gloss of ersatz "psychological" insight.

A strongly empathetic performance by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi lends conviction to “Voices,” vet Italo helmer Franco Giraldi’s adaptation of Dacia Maraini’s novel. Yet despite thesp’s efforts and a solid supporting cast, this murder mystery is elevated from routine pot-boilerdom only by a gloss of ersatz “psychological” insight. Star’s marquee value will steer some biz toward Euro hardtops, but ancillary life won’t be long in coming.

Michela (Tedeschi) is a trainee-level Genoa reporter who considers her life dreary compared to that of next-door neighbor Angela (Gabriella Pession), a vivacious blonde. But the morning after Michela declines an invitation to yet another raucous party at chez Angela, she’s awakened by police — the wildly popular girl was brutally murdered. Driven by mixed guilt and curiosity, heroine pursues the case as an investigative story, getting an improbable amount of help from police (whom she fails to notify when stumbling across important leads). Interviews and intrigue uncover predictable dirt: Seemingly happy-go-lucky Angela was product of childhood sexual abuse, with plentiful jealous and/or criminal types emerging as suspects. Playing sole character with depth, Tedeschi is excellent but can’t cover for overall contrivance and slack suspense. Tech package is polished.

Voices

Italy

Production

A Buskin Film and Factory production in association with RAI Cinema. Produced by Mariella Li Sacchi. Executive producer, Amedeo Letizia. Directed by Franco Giraldi. Screenplay, Giraldi, Serena Brugnolo, Chiara Laudani, Alessio Cremonini, based on the novel by Dacia Maraini.

Crew

Camera (color), Marco Pontecorvo; editor, Marina Vatteroni; music, Maurizio Abeni; art director, Mario Fontana Araldi. Reviewed at Montreal Film Festival (World Cinema), Aug. 31, 2001. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Miki Manojlovic, Gabriele Lavia, Gabriella Pession, Erica Blanc, Sonia Bergamasco.

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