Mar 26, 2014

Review: L'assedio [The Siege] (1998)

The Siege is a patiently crafted piece of cinematic eye candy. It's also the first movie I've watched that's directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. The only real connection I can make in terms of what I've seen previously is Once Upon a Time in the West which he was one of the credited writers for. Once Upon a Time in the West happens to be one of the rare movies I've given a 10/10 on in my limited years of watching movies so that's pretty significant. It might mean something. Or it might mean nothing.

The movie opens up with a look at where Shandurai comes from played by Thandie Newton. It's a harrowing beginning, aided by an interesting music choice provided by an old man. Shandurai is established as a haunted woman who chooses to move away to Italy to escape her past. 

We're also introduced with David Thewlis' character who is an enigmatic pianist. Jason Kinsky is hopelessly in love with Shandurai but he's not so great at showing it. What shows this as well as so many of the emotions in Besieged is the cinematography. Fabio Cianchetti, the cinematographer speaks the words for Shandurai and Kinsky with all sorts of rolls, pans and yes, even Dutch angles to great effect.

You could maybe be lead to believe that there's too much going on with the camera but it makes sense in this instance. The Siege is not a dialogue heavy film, it's pretty limited especially so with Shandurai and Kinsky. The Siege shows of a great display of technique while advancing the story at the same time with the magic that is cinematography.

I don't want to get too much into the story, but it's good. It's all about Kinsky doing what he can to win Shandirai's love. That's the inelegant way of putting it. It's worth seeing this movie just to see what happens in the end, trust me.

One more thing, I also enjoyed the use of music from both of the characters' backgrounds which are so different. The contrast between African and classical piano just adds more depth to an already rich experience that is The Siege.


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