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FILMS / REVIEWS Italy

Review: 7 donne e un mistero

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- Alessandro Genovesi’s new movie is an unusual Christmas offering in the form of a fully female one-room whodunnit and a remake of a François Ozon film

Review: 7 donne e un mistero

A one-room whodunnit revolving around 7 women cooped up in a sumptuous villa on Christmas Eve, while a snowstorm rages outside, and a man lies murdered upstairs. But who’s the murderer? In his remake of François Ozon’s 2002 film 8 Women [+see also:
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(based, in turn, on Robert Thomas’ stage play), director and screenwriter Alessandro Genovesi (La peggior settimana della mia vita [+see also:
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, Soap Opera [+see also:
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) has pared down the cast of the original work and added a touch of comedy and female solidarity to this story about a colourful group of women grappling with an inexplicable homicide and wrestling with their darkest and most unspeakable secrets. And 7 donne e un mistero [+see also:
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has secured some of the most sought-after names in Italian cinema in order to tell this particular story: Margherita Buy, Diana Del Bufalo, Sabrina Impacciatore, Benedetta Porcaroli, Micaela Ramazzotti, Luisa Ranieri, and musical icon 87-year-old singer Ornella Vanoni – seen here without her trademark red mane for the very first time – all lend their talent to this unusual, wholly female and ever so slightly naughty Christmas offering (the film hits cinemas on 25 December).

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Just a few hours before they’re due to sit down to Christmas dinner, family patriarch Marcello is found slumped on his bed with a knife in his back. All the women in his life, who are there in the villa for the evening’s celebrations, subsequently begin to suspect one another. His unfaithful wife Margherita (Buy) doesn’t seem even remotely distraught; their two daughters – the youngest and most rebellious Caterina (Porcaroli) and their devoted firstborn Susanna (Del Bufalo) - try to call the emergency services but the phone line has been cut; his spinster sister-in-law Agostina (Impacciatore), who was secretly in love with him, suffers one fainting spell after another, while his rich and greedy mother-in-law Rachele (Vanoni) does nothing but request a strong drink. Circling among them, silver tray in hand, is the new, beautiful and ambiguous maid Maria (Ranieri), and Marcello’s long-term lover - femme fatale Veronica (Ramazzotti) – also joins the party, after an unknown person calls her to inform her of the foul deed.

Little by little, scene by scene, secrets, subterfuge and betrayals emerge. We discover that all the women in this house, each of them connected to the victim in their own way, are lying or have something to hide. Meanwhile, the only car available to them turns out to be unusable, the gates to the house are padlocked shut and the snow continues to fall in abundance: it’s impossible to escape and the light is fading… Co-written by Genovesi in league with Lisa Nur Sultan (On My Skin [+see also:
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), 7 donne e un mistero is set in the 1930s (whereas Ozon’s film unfolded two decades later) and isn’t as dark as the original French film. Instead, it focuses on the interplay between the actresses and the wonderful film set, colourful costumes and impeccable hair and make-up. Margherita Buy dazzles in the role played by Catherine Deneuve in Ozon’s film and, overall, this wholly female display of skills proves an enjoyable watch, rounded off by a now almost obligatory invitation to join the sisterhood, which fits in perfectly with these Me Too times.

7 donne e un mistero is produced by Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Gangarossa on behalf of Wildside and Warner Bros. Entertainment Italia. The film will be released in cinemas on 25 December, courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

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(Translated from Italian)

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