DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
THE GIRL BY THE LAKE (LA RAGAZZA DEL LAGO) (director/writer: Andrea Molaioli; screenwriters: from the novel Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum/ Sandro Petraglia; cinematographer: Ramiro Civita; editor: Giogiň Franchini; music: Teho Teardo; cast: Toni Servillo (Inspector Giovanni Sanzio), Denis Fasolo (Roberto), Franco Ravera (Mario), Omero Antonutti (Father of Mario), Marco Baliani (Davide Nadal), Alessia Piovan (Anna Nadal), Heidi Caldart (Silvia Nadal), Fausto Maria Sciarappa (Siboldi), Nello Mascia (Alfredo), Sara D’Amrio (Giani), Nicole Perrone (Marta), Fabrizio Gifuni  (Corrado Canali), Valeria Golino (Chiara Canali), Giulia Michelini (Francesca), Anna Bonaiuto (Inspector's Wife), Sandra Cosatto Roberto's Mother), Maria Sole Mansutti (Marta's Mother), Marzia Postagna  (Marta's Father), Enrico Cavallero (Allenatore); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Nicola Giuliano/Francesca Cima; MPI Home Video; 2007-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)

 
"Fails to come up with an impactful payoff and therefore some of the good things it does in building tension gets wasted."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Italian filmmaker Andrea Molaioli ("The Jewel"), a longtime assistant director to Nanni Moretti, directs in her debut the well-produced, well-acted and well-photographed police procedural story. Unfortunately it fails to come up with an impactful payoff and therefore some of the good things it does in building tension gets wasted. Yet it's still an above average thriller. It's based on the novel Don't Look Back by the Norwegian author Karin Fossum and is written by Sandro Petraglia.

When the nude corpse of the secretive, beautiful and athletic school hockey player, the 18-year-old Anna Nadal (Alessia Piovan), is reported by a little missing girl named Marta (Nicole Perrone) lying on the shore by a lake in the Italian Dolomite Alps, in the serene country region of Northern Italy, veteran city police inspector, Giovanni Sanzio (Toni Servillo), in the area investigating the case of the found missing girl, takes over the murder investigation and brings with him his loyal assistants Siboldi (Fausto Maria Sciarappa) and Alfredo (Nello Mascia). He also recruits on his team local lady cop Giani (Sara D’Amrio).

The competent soft-spoken inspector is able to carry on his professional duties though troubled by home problems such as an institutionalized wife (Anna Bonaiuto), for Alzheimer's, no longer able to recognize him, and a rebellious teenage daughter (Giulia Michelini) with poor school grades. The efficient detective tries to get at the crime's motive as he interviews a number of suspects that include the harmless village idiot Mario (Franco Ravera), who found the body; the prime suspect, Anna's hostile idler factory worker boyfriend Roberto (Denis Fasolo); Anna's bereaved and awkwardly fawning over his daughter father (Marco Baliani), who has lasciviously videotaped her in a red bikini; Anna's sullen unwanted stepsister (Heidi Caldart); the womanizing hockey coach; and the divorced neighbor named Corrado (Fabrizio Gifuni), whose retarded child choked to death while he watched with his wife (Valeria Golino). Anna was the caring babysitter who loved baby Angelo and could control the child's violent tantrums when his embarrassed parents couldn't.

In this adult story, the children are capable of being just as destructive as their parents, who openly admit to hating their handicapped youngsters, and we observe that love is not easy to find when it's so conditional and so demanding. Though Sanzio is far from perfect, in this story he's the one we care the most about because he's the one most interested in trying to make a connection with someone else even if it seems impossible or improbable. The pic's beauty is in the idyllic location shots and the way it tries to get at some difficult truths about its father problems, even if they remain unresolved and leave the viewer wanting to know more.

In Italy, it won the Donatello prize for Best Picture. 

REVIEWED ON 2/26/2013       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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