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Long haunted by the memory of a passionate love affair that ended in tragedy, Dr. Timoteo Rossi (writer/director Sergio Castellitto, co-star of Mostly Martha) is forced to confront his past when his teenage daughter goes into a coma after a near fatal accident. This spark leads us into his past affair with Italia (Penélope Cruz), a tender but damaged soul who works as a hotel maid, and on whom Timoteo risks his marriage. Winner of Italy's Diamante al Cinema Awards for Best Film and Best Director, and David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress and Best Actor.
 

 Don't Move

Don’t Move is a creative collaboration with my wife, Margaret Mazzantini, who wrote the novel Don't Move and co-wrote the screenplay with me. I think our relationship was greatly enriched by our collaboration. But I wrote the first draft of this script alone because Margaret told me that I had to be alone, and in that sense free, as the director of this movie. And then she helped me in the draft that followed. But the book, in any case, is absolutely the movie.

Obviously when you imagine a movie from a book, you have to strike a balance between faithfulness to the story and a little necessary betrayal of that story. But the novel and the film are absolutely still the same. During the work of putting this film together, inevitably Margaret and I had some disagreements. However, they were technical disagreements and never ethical differences.

So never did we have compromises about the characters, or the story. Though Margaret and I are very different people, we share the same vision of life. In other words, it can be said that we cry and laugh together over the same things in life.

I had no problems with the subject matter or delving into these subjects with Margaret, or exploring erotic obsession and the darker side of male sexuality. Because I thought that the most important thing was the ethical theme of the story, not the episode of the rape and other things.

I talked with Margaret about the rape. But we had the same idea about the violence. We are naturally against any kind of violence. And I can say that the rape of Penélope Cruz’s character Italia was the most difficult scene for me, and for Penélope too.

I didn't want to fall into the trap of eroticism. So I decided to shoot it with the camera backing away from the scene. I wanted to leave the two characters as alone as possible, this poor Albanian immigrant and the wealthy doctor Timoteo. So starting with the closeup of Penélope, until the total framing of her house, the way to shoot the scene was obviously the way you shape your judgment about it.

But we must first talk about Timoteo to answer the question about the rape. Because Timoteo is a man with a big hole in his soul. When he meets Italia for the first time, something breaks inside him. I think that the first time he comes into her rundown house, he recognizes in there the misery and the foul stench of his own life. But we must not forget that the origin of this love story is born in the abyss, in the mud. And then it goes towards heaven. So this is, I think, the true origin of this relationship.

Obviously, this is a rape. But at the same time, I think that this man and this woman in this house are two lonely people who meet each other. So I'm not so sure that Italia doesn't accept this man, even though she is being violated. It's a little bit more subtle. The question has been raised about the tempestuous relationship between these two characters, this wealthy Italian doctor and impoverished Albanian immigrant, and if that is linked in any way to their class differences, or the historical relationship between Italy and Albania that has been one of conquest, invasion and colonialism. It's very interesting, I think, that perhaps in my own Italian subconscious, this exists.

But the reason for the Albanian origin of Italia was to justify Penélope’s accent. Which in fact ended up being just right. However, there is some truth about the relationship between Italia and Timoteo and its social aspects. Because this is a love story between two opposite worlds that try to find a point of contact. They do find it, but I think that someone has to pay the price. I always thought that in that sense, this love story is not only about the harmony that is reached for, but a love story that is also about a struggle.

I've never wanted to make a movie anchored in realism, or a social issue film. But I think that there are a lot of social and political consciousness issues in the poetry of cinema. I am convinced that we must try to speak to the subconscious of the audience, but without playing upon their emotions. I think that is the most difficult thing to achieve.

I have always thought that not just cinema, but also that life is always sublime and full of misery at the same time, and both tragic and poetic. I have always thought this is so, because I grew up in a cinematic culture that taught me this. If I think of Fellini, Germi and the great Italian comedy, comedia italiana, they have taught me all these ideas. So I see the character of Italia as a queen, a poor queen like Gelsomina in Fellini's La Strada.

I think that Timoteo is a fantastic depiction of the way men are today. You know, he is man for whom coming of age means to become harsh. Me, I never accepted this idea. However, I'm always interested in playing characters who are very different from me. At the same time, I think that there is a little bit of Timoteo in every man. You know, we all have a dark side, but it is a side that may never come to the surface.

I can say that my real passion is life. Cinema becomes the occasion for allowing me to talk about life. When you start working on a film like this, it has to become an obsession—there is no choice. Especially if you are the director, obviously. A director works with so many people. But in my life, I have never come across a more solitary endeavor. I think that this solitude becomes the heart of that obsession.

I believe the title Don't Move means many things. It may mean, stay with me. Or, don't die. Or, listen to my words. But I think first of all it means, listen to my pain.