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Monday, November 16, 2015

La Voce Umana (aka The Human Voice) (2014)

Set in 1950 Naples, a woman (Sophia Loren) struggles to be strong as she says goodbye to her lover (Enrico Lo Verso) for the last five years over the telephone. Based on the 1930 play LA VOIX HUMAINE by Jean Cocteau and directed by Loren's son, Edoardo Ponti. Cocteau's play is a tour de force for an actress. Anna Magnani did it on film in 1948 and Ingrid Bergman did it for television in 1967 and Francis Poulenc composed an opera in 1959 that is frequently performed. This film is a clearly a gift of love from a director son to his actress mother. But is it any good? Yes, it is. Even at the age of 80, Loren is up to the task and her acting is as vital as ever. I wouldn't call it a great performance but it's a performance full of anguish and passion and she's absolutely believable as a woman going through an emotional breakdown. Cocteau's play is a monologue but Ponti has added a small speaking part for Virginia Da Brescia as Loren's housekeeper. Transparent and poignant.

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