Dormant Beauty / Bella addormentata

dir. Marco Bellochio, Italy/France 2012



Marco Bellochio’s film, the winner of the Special Prize at the Venice Film Festival, is a multi-perspective approach to the issue of euthanasia. A real event is the starting point here - the controversial case of the Italian Eluana Englaro, who had been artificially kept alive for 17 years. The director carefully registers how this hot topic resonates in his country and provokes a discussion about the line between life and death, private and public, religion and politics. 

The battle of Englaro's father for the opportunity to withhold artificial feeding of his daughter turns into a media event; protesters pour into the streets and the media covers every detail of this public debate. Prime Minister Berlusconi organizes the initiative to create a decree requiring Eluana's father to continue her life support. Bellochio presents his characters against this particular background. A Senator, who has recently lost his wife, battles with his conscience when considering whether to support the bill. His daughter who is deeply religious attacks him but then she falls in love with a brother of an ardent advocate for euthanasia. A former actress, despite the protests of her son, devotes herself entirely to caring for her daughter who remains in comatose. Self-destructive trajectory of the life of a desperate drug addict is unexpectedly interrupted after the woman meets a certain doctor. 

Bellochio does not avoid  metaphors, exaggeration or hitting the high notes. This is particularly evident in the story of the character played by Isabelle Huppert or in the bath scene that was staged like a meeting of the Senate of Ancient Rome. But the "Dormant Beauty" rises above the level of an obvious film essay. Even while touching the grand themes, the director maintains modest and sensitive, giving his cinema the characteristic of nobility.  

Jakub Popielecki