Both victim and perpetrator learn to cope with the awful consequences of a rape.

Both victim and perpetrator learn to cope with the awful consequences of a rape in the thoughtful if slightly ponderous Italian drama “Dark Love.” Experienced Neapolitan writer-helmer Antonio Capuano (“Pianese Nunzio, Fourteen in May”) sensitively explores how the crime sends shockwaves through several years of the protagonists’ lives. Low-budget but expressionist pic is perhaps not quite distinctive enough to find much love offshore, but could have modest legs at home.

High on drugs, drink and adolescent aggression, working-class Naples teenager Ciro (Gabriele Agrio) and three of his friends randomly rape another teenager, Irene (Irene De Angelis). Ciro is sentenced to four years in Nishida, an island-bound prison. While he slowly comes to terms with the horror of what he’s done, Irene struggles to cope with the trauma; her less-than-supportive upper-class family can barely speak of what happened. As a form of self-therapy, Ciro starts to write her long letters (glimpsed but, frustratingly, barely translated at screening caught), and eventually she musters the strength to write him back. Crosscutting between the two storylines is sometimes abrupt and staccato, but woozy, smeary lensing by Tommaso Borgstrom compels interest.

Dark Love

Italy

Production

A Fandango release of a Gianni Minervini presentation of an LGM -- Ellegiamme production in collaboration with Rai Cinema. (International sales: Rai Trade, Rome.) Produced by Gianni Minervini. Directed, written by Antonio Capuano.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Tommaso Borgstrom; editor, Giogio Franchini; music, Pasquale Catalano; art director, Maica Rotondo; costume designer, Francesca Balzano. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Sept. 1, 2010. Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Irene De Angelis, Gabriele Agrio, Luisa Ranieri, Corso Salani, Valeria Golino, Anna Ammirati.
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