A women-in-prison drama of the old style, “Bad Women” relies on a strong ensemble cast headlined by Spanish thesps Angela Molina and Ana Fernandez, plus Italy’s promising young Giovanna Mezzogiorno. However, beyond its admiring portrait of tough femmes, pic is singularly lacking in dramatic motivation. If jailed men spend nights plotting ways to escape, these ladies just wait tearfully to serve their time and get back to their men/kids/career. Strongest prospects lie on TV and video.
Third film directed by veteran d.p. Fabio Conversi takes its Italian title from a classic Neapolitan song about female passion. Pretty young actress Francesca (Mezzogiorno) arrives in a prison by the sea. She weeps bitterly when she is put in a cell with five lower-class cons, yet soon finds herself at home with a sexy but sensitive Spaniard, Candela (Fernandez), hysterically aggressive Patrizia (Sabina Began) and aging, wheelchair-dependent Nunzia (Molina). Foregoing makeup and glamour, Molina gives an edgy perf built around glances and gestures as a woman who has let passion rule and ruin her life. Mezzogiorno, a little lightweight in comparison, still fills the bill professionally as the sugary innocent (?) in hell.