Girl By the Lake [Import]
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It swept Italy's Academy Awards, won the Venice Film Festival's top acting prize for star Toni Servillo (Il Divo, Gomorrah) and remains one of the most acclaimed mystery thrillers in years: When a beautiful young girl is found murdered in an idyllic Northern Italy village, Inspector Giovanni Sanzio (Servillo) is called in from the capital to investigate. But in a small town where nobody is what they seem, anyone could be capable of homicide and everyone may be hiding a dark secret...including Inspector Sanzio. Valeria Golina (Frida), Fabrizio Gifuni (The Best of Youth) and Omero Antonutti (Padre Padrone) co-star in this startling drama.
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The film begins with a brilliant bit of trickery that instantly pulls you into the action. Once the initial red herring is revealed, however, the primary story line becomes clear. A local girl is found nude and carefully positioned at the lake (I suppose you might have gathered that, however, from the title!). Sensing that the culprit was someone she knew, the police (headed by a great character actor Toni Servillo) start to track her last day of life. In this small village, it seems everyone has a connection to the girl--but no real motive. At times, the crime itself takes a back seat as the investigators start to uncover secrets about the past, about town inhabitants, and about the girl herself. And as we circle around the eventual solution, there might be more than one crime to shed light on.
"The Girl by the Lake" doesn't succeed with big shocks and stunning surprises. It is as calm as the lake in question. Servillo personally connects to the case as he sees some parallels to his own home life. And so with dogged determination, he steadfastly pursues answers. A real procedural, in the strictest sense, all the dramatic weight is provided in suspect and witness interviews. And as each person relates whatever information they have, a bigger and more complicated picture emerges. Well scripted and finely acted, this is a quiet film that remains firmly grounded in character. A uniquely intimate crime story, this is one successful picture that never has to try too hard. KGHarris, 3/11.