“Don’t Move’s” constipated plot passes uncomfortably

“Don’t Move”

Northern Arts Entertainment

Directed and Written by Sergio Castellitto

Based on the novel by Margaret Mazzantini

Starring Sergio Castellitto, Penelope Cruz, and Claudia Gerini

125 min/Unrated (strong sexuality and language)

In Italian with subtitles

Opened on May 20

Two out of four stars

The suds runneth over in “Don’t Move,” a soapy melodrama offering a select few impressive performances and a lackluster story that’s like the Energizer Bunny-it just keeps going and going and going.

Timoteo (played by Sergio Castellitto) has all the trappings of a happy life: He’s a respected surgeon with a coastal getaway and a beautiful wife (played by Claudia Gerini) that fills a swimsuit very nicely. One day, his car breaks down in a rotting husk of a town. He catches the eye of a destitute woman named Italia (Penelope Cruz), who offers him a telephone. Very drunk, Timoteo follows her home, thinks about making that phone call, but opts instead to sexually assault his host.

What drives Timoteo to do such a brutal thing? It hardly seems like lust-from the looks of it, Italia rolls around in the same poop her dog does. However, his assault is not a simple or one-time occurrence-Timoteo returns to Italia again and again, and soon enough, the pair are experiencing an emotion that resembles a very complicated kind of love for one another.

But while the experiences of the characters in “Don’t Move” are obviously complicated, they are also unnervingly boring.

A frame story involving an accident is affecting until it reveals itself as nothing more than another cog in a motionless plot. It does create some sympathy for Timoteo, but not nearly enough to rescue such an otherwise repugnant character.

Audiences know from the beginning exactly where the plot is going-unplanned pregnancies and fateful coughs arrive with all the surprise of a funeral procession. The writing just doesn’t make any of this feel new.

What we’re left with are some very good performances-particularly Cruz as Italia, who shows just how unattractive she can be without makeup (and covered in poop). She convinces us of her hurt and her longing, even when the script requires her to go over the top. She’s the closest thing to a real person in the entire film-the other characters are just grease for the machine.

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