'The Passion of Anna Magnani': Film Review | Cannes 2019

Jun 06, 2019 392

Towards the end of Enrico Cerasuolo’s The Passion of Anna Magnani, Marcello Mastroianni — who co-starred with Magnani in the film 1870 — calls her “the greatest actress we ever had,” a judgment most viewers will agree with. Though it certainly whets the appetite, this one-hour recap of her stage and film career is too brief to get at the heart of Italy’s great screen legend, who embodied the bare-faced, post-war honesty of neo-realism and became a symbol of the city of Rome itself. (Tennessee Williams called her “the spirit of Italy.")

Professionally made, but lacking the passion of its subject and a personal point of view from which to approach her, the doc should anyway hit the spot for fest and TV usage. It is a fine catalog of her must-see films and includes a well-chosen selection of historical interviews. The opinions of Marlon Brando, Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini, Sophia Loren and Ingrid Bergman are unwrapped like gifts, each one offering a different perspective on Magnani’s complex personality. According to her son Luca, she was an unusual mixture of masculine and feminine, and the director stresses her nonconformity, strength and courage.

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