Besieged

on May 21, 1999 by Susan Green
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Bernardo Bertolucci's lovingly detailed new film follows the fortunes of an African woman named Shandurai ("Beloved's" Thandie Newton) who flees to Rome after the arrest of her husband in the military dictatorship she calls home. While attending medical school, she works as a housekeeper for Jason Kinsky ("Divorcing Jack's" David Thewlis), a self-absorbed classical composer. He wins her affection by shunning his worldly goods to live a far simpler life, a sacrifice that's strangely liberating.
Bertolucci and co-writer Clare Peploe tell an intimate and painstaking tale that's complemented by exquisitely restrained acting. Not a movie of great consequence like Bertolucci's Oscar-winning "The Last Emperor," it moves with the deliberate pace of European art-house fare.
With virtually no dialogue for about the first 10 minutes, the camera caresses each subtle image. The only misstep is the periodic use of quick jump cuts, a device that's inappropriately jarring. Starring Thandie Newton and David Thewlis. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Written by Bernardo Bertolucci and Clare Peploe. Produced by Massimo Cortesi. A Fine Line release. Drama. Rated R for brief sexuality. Running time: 92 min.
Tags: Bernardo Bertolucci, Thandie Newton, David Thewlis, military, romance, Rome, escape, wealth
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