Starring: Claudio Bigagli, Galatea Ranzi, Michael Vartan
Synopsis: This film chronicles the love lives of a family cursed by greed. On his was to see his estranged father, Luigi Benedetti tells his children about “the legend of the gold” which we see in flashback as they drive. Two hundred years ago during Napoleon’s invasion of Italy young Elisabetta Benedetti fell in love with Jean, a French soldier responsible for guarding the army’s gold. But while Jean is distracted by Elisabetta, her brother Corrodo stole the gold, without his sister’s knowledge. When the theft is discovered the French army announces that Jean will be shot the next morning, if the gold is not returned. If it is returned there will be no questions asked. Elisabetta’s mother and Corrodo decide to keep the money anyway and Jean is shot the next morning. When Elisabetta learns what has happened she vows revenge on whoever is responsible for her lover’s death, not knowing that it was her own family. She doesn’t live to see her curse played out. She dies in childbirth (she was pregnant with Jean’s child at the time of his death). But 100 years later the Benedetti family is wealthy and corrupt. The daughter of the family- Elisa, falls in love with a man of whom her family disapproves. When the family has him sent away, she takes her revenge before dying in childbirth. Her son, Luigi’s father, Massimo, comes of age in the 1930’s and during WWII. He is aware of his family’s legacy of greed, betrayal and vengeance. But does he have any hope of breaking the cycle or is his own love also doomed?
My Thoughts: The characters in this movie are played by the same actors in each generation. This definitely gives a sense of inevitability to events. How can things turn out differently if it’s the same people? Yes, I know they’re playing different characters in each generation, but I think the choice to use the same actors speaks to the filmmaker’s desire for us to see them as the same people in different incarnations. Obviously this is broken in the current generation. Massimo is played as a younger man by Michael Vartan (who also played Jean) but by a different actor as an older man. His son, his daughter in law and their children are all played by new actors. Does this mean that the curse has run its course and the current generation of the family is now “safe”? Or will one of the children grow up to be claimed by it in some way? And of course, is the curse real at all? it could be a self fulfilling prophesy (people acting badly because they believe that’s what that are). All of that is left fairly ambiguous, which I think was a wise choice. It’s up to the viewer to decide if fate will determine these children’s futures or if they have free will.
Honestly one of the first things i thought when I started watching this movie was “I didn’t know that Michael Vartan spoke Italian”. I do know he speaks French and since Jean is a French soldier it makes sense that his Italian might be flawed. But his later character, the younger Massimo is Italian born and bred. Since I don’t speak Italian I have no idea if Vartan is speaking it like a native speaker or not. But as far as I can tell he wasn’t dubbed. if he was they did a good enough job so that it wasn’t obvious.