Sunday, November 6, 2011

La sconosciuta (The Unknown Woman)

Irena, a Ukrainian immigrant, seems obsessed with an Italian family, but never approaches them directly.  She befriends the doorman in their apartment building and the family's housekeeper, rents an apartment across the street, and stalks the family.  Eventually, she gains their trust and becomes their housekeeper (after killing her friend, their current housekeeper!).  Gradually we get hints of her motivation.  When a bad dude from her past begins to call, then shows up, we learn that she was actually a slave who escaped by violently attacking her master.  Flashbacks reveal the horrific nature of her captivity, eventually tying into her obsession with the Italian family.
She's watching . . . what's she watching for?
The slow reveal of Irena's past and motivations make this movie.  As Irena's past catches up with her, things begin to spiral out of control, throwing Irena's whole project into question.  I am reluctant to reveal much more than that; this movie is best enjoyed knowing little about the story.  I will say, as a word of caution, that the flashbacks to Irena's captivity, though brief and fleeting, have some disturbing images. 

The Unknown Woman is a little creepy, not horror movie creepy, but creepy in the sense of an almost understandable obsession.  Irena crosses the line, but as she does so, I sympathized with her plight.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

No comments: