Screenplay, Grazia Giardiello, Roberto Jannone, Orfini, Roberto Tiraboschi. Camera (color), Claudio Bellero; editor, Claudio Cutry; music, Tito Schipa Jr.; art director, Gianni Quaranta; costume designer, Nicoletta Ercole. Reviewed at Quattro Fontane Cinema, Rome, April 29, 1999. (In Cannes Film Festival — market.) Original title: L’anniversario. Running time: 76 MIN.
With: Laura Morante, Luca Zingaretti, Elena Fresco, Alessandra Celi, Massimo Rossi, Cinzia Mascoli, Francesco Prando.
Potent performances anchor “The Anniversary,” a grueling trip into conjugal hell that harks back to ’70s Euro cinema focusing on solitude and alienation in modern relationships. While there may have been a need back then to explode the myth of the happy middle-class couple, too much has since been said on the subject to make it worth revisiting without a contemporary twist. Who might constitute this film’s audience is a mystery, though Euro TV appears the most likely home for its sustained intensity.
Shot in ultra-close, claustrophobic style, the drama unfolds on the 10th wedding anniversary of Anita (Laura Morante) and Michele (Luca Zingaretti). Director/co-scripter Mario Orfini opens with the aftermath of violence, keeping the audience guessing about what took place and the desperate psychological games being played. During a dinner party, the puzzle is assembled as Anita unburdens herself of a painful secret that brings down the facade of her loveless marriage and makes way for the violence lurking beneath. Outmoded pic is very much an actor’s piece, showcasing fierce, volatile work from both leads.