La Luna

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"Between a mother and son. Between the delicate boundaries of love."
  • R
  • 1979
  • 2 hr 22 min
  • 6.4  (5,297)

La Luna is a 1979 drama film that follows a young man named Joe, played by Matthew Barry, who travels to Italy with his opera singer mother, Caterina, played by Jill Clayburgh. Joe's mother is addicted to heroin, and together they seek out a doctor who can help her with her addiction. On their journey, they encounter a number of colorful characters and navigate the complexities of their troubled relationship.

The film opens with Joe and Caterina arriving in Rome. They are met by Caterina's friend, family, and colleagues, all of whom seem to be aware of her drug problem but are too polite to say anything. It is clear from the beginning that their relationship is strained, with Caterina frequently lashing out at Joe and blaming him for her addiction.

The film explores themes of addiction, family dynamics, and personal identity. As they travel deeper into Italy, Joe and Caterina meet a variety of people, including a group of hippies who live in an abandoned villa, a sex worker who befriends Joe, and a kindly doctor who takes an interest in Caterina's well-being.

One of the most striking things about La Luna is its portrayal of Caterina's addiction. The film does not shy away from the gritty realities of heroin use, and we see Caterina shooting up throughout the film. However, there is also a sense of beauty and lyricism to the scenes involving Caterina's drug use, with the camera lingering on her face as she slips into a drug-induced dream state.

The film also has a strong sense of place. Director Bernardo Bertolucci presents a sumptuous portrait of Italy, with Joe and Caterina traveling through the breathtaking landscapes of Tuscany, Venice, and Rome. The film's visual style is lush and painterly, with Bertolucci's camera lingering on the stunning architecture and natural beauty of Italy.

At its core, though, La Luna is a character study. Jill Clayburgh gives a powerful performance as Caterina, bringing a fierce vulnerability to the character. As we learn more about Caterina's past and the trauma that led to her addiction, we begin to understand the complexities of her relationship with Joe.

Matthew Barry is also impressive as Joe. He brings a quiet intensity to the role, conveying a sense of frustration and sadness at his mother's addiction. Their scenes together are often fraught with tension as they struggle to connect with one another.

Veronica Lazar gives a standout performance as Caterina's friend and colleague, Elisa. She provides a grounding force for Caterina and Joe, offering them a sense of stability in a world that seems chaotic and unpredictable.

Overall, La Luna is a powerful and haunting film. It explores difficult themes with sensitivity and nuance, creating a portrait of a dysfunctional family that feels all too real. Bertolucci's direction is confident and assured, and the performances from the cast are exceptional. While it may not be a film for everyone, La Luna stands as a powerful example of Italian cinema at its finest.

La Luna
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 22 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.4  (5,297)