Winner of five Donatello Awards (the Italian equivalent of the Oscars), director Giuseppe Tornatore turns darkly away from his much-lauded Cinema Paradiso with this gritty, fascinating look at a Ukrainian sex slave’s attempt to reconstruct her life. Critics from most major papers hail the film as a Hitchcockian triumph, and it is—but not in the retro, homage-paying style of most thriller copycats. In fact, this is probably a film that Hitchcock might have made today, if he were alive. Modern and stylish (but without Hitchcock’s occasional self indulgence), there’s a twist around every turn as the mysterious Irena (Xenia Rappoport) arrives in northern Italy and methodically stakes out a hotel residence filled to the brim with Italian jewelers and their gold. Navigating her way into the life of one family, she eventually finds what she’s looking for – but it’s not what you think – and soon, her psychotic pimp shows up throwing the whole plan into chaos. With music by Ennio Morricone and flawless cinematography by Fabio Zamarion (including some nauseating flashback sequences), The Unknown Woman is one of the most original and intelligent stories to come out in a decade.
The Unknown Woman, Image Entertainment. 120 min. Rated R. Releases July 21.