Friday, 22 June 2012

Girl with a Suitcase [1961]

Italian filmmaker Valerio Zurlini’s spellbinding wartime romantic tragedy Estate Violenta and its immediate follow-up Girl with a Suitcase make a great double bill. Though there are major departures between the two, they also share the basic storyline of a guy falling for, against societal conventions, with an older woman. The guy here is Lorenzo (Jacques Perrin), a 16-year old boy belonging to a wealthy family. When his elder brother Marcello ditches his girlfriend with callous irresponsibility, he meets Aida (Claudia Cardinale), who is homeless and penniless on account of having left her job as a singer and fled with Marcello. Though Lorenzo’s initial intent was to lend a sympathetic shoulder to her, almost immediately he gets enamoured with the ravishingly beautiful and melancholic lady, and before long he is head over heels in love with her. Though Aida becomes aware of the young lad’s growing feelings for her, displayed not just by the enormous attention he starts giving her (at the risk of getting into bad books with his stern aunt-cum-guardian) but also by the surreptitiously arranged money he starts showering on her, she continues to keep him at an arm’s length. Though, unlike the earlier film, this was largely devoid of political subtexts and consequent undercurrents, the bittersweet relation that the lonely Lorenzo develops with the equally lonely Aida managed to be both uplifting and tragic. Gorgeously shot in B/W and comprising of a lovely score (two more traits it shared with the earlier film), the fluid narrative, the non-intrusive and non-judgemental treatment, and matured performances by the two leads, made this a memorable depiction of first love and first heartbreak.

Director: Valerio Zurlini
Genre: Drama/Romance
Language: Italian
Country: Italy

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