Watch Ossessione

  • TV-14
  • 1959
  • 2 hr 14 min
  • 7.6  (8,196)

In 1943, the Italian film industry was enveloped in the strict censorship imposed by the fascist regime. But one film broke through those barriers to deliver a powerful and poetic treatise on love, obsession, and murder. That film was "Ossessione," directed by Luchino Visconti, which would become a landmark of Italian cinema, a precursor of neorealism, and a timeless classic of film noir.

At its heart, "Ossessione" is a love story that defies conventions and social norms. The plot revolves around Gino Costa, a wanderer and drifter who stops at a roadside inn run by Giovanna Bragana, a sensuous and neglected wife trapped in a loveless marriage. When Gino and Giovanna meet, they immediately feel a mutual attraction that transcends their status and circumstances. Despite the risks and obstacles, they embark on a reckless and passionate affair that leads them to commit a heinous crime and confront their deepest fears and desires.

The performances of the three lead actors are pivotal to the success of "Ossessione." Clara Calamai delivers a tour-de-force as Giovanna, conveying both the vulnerability and the cunning of a woman who has been betrayed by society and seeks redemption through love. Her eyes and gestures speak volumes about her inner turmoil and the conflicting forces that drive her to kill and to save. Massimo Girotti shines as Gino, a charming and charismatic antihero who embodies the romantic ideal of a freedom-loving rebel. He exudes an animal magnetism and a raw sensuality that are hard to resist, even when he reveals his darker side. Finally, Dhia Cristiani portrays Anita, the pretty waitress who becomes an innocent victim of Gino's allure and Giovanna's envy. Her innocence and naivete highlight the tragic consequences of the passionate obsession that consumes the main characters.

The cinematography of "Ossessione" is also noteworthy, as it captures the stark contrast between the natural beauty of the Italian landscapes and the gritty reality of poverty and corruption. The opening shot, a close-up of a spider weaving its web, sets the tone for the film's pervasive sense of entrapment and fate. The use of chiaroscuro lighting and shadowy angles creates an atmosphere of tension and suspense that enhances the tragic dimension of the love triangle. The editing is also precise and innovative, as it blends realistic and stylized elements to suggest the psychological state of the characters and the mood of the story.

While "Ossessione" may seem tame by today's standards, in its time, it was a scandalous and controversial film that challenged the political and cultural establishment. Visconti, who was a member of the Communist Party, adapted the story from James M. Cain's novel "The Postman Always Rings Twice," but set it in Italy and infused it with a subversive critique of fascism and capitalism. The film was banned by the regime and only released after the end of World War II, but it had already influenced a new generation of filmmakers who sought to break away from the formulaic and idealized cinema of the past.

In retrospect, "Ossessione" can be seen as a work of art that transcends its historical context and speaks to universal themes of human nature and morality. It portrays love as a force that can liberate and destroy, that can inspire and corrupt, that can transcend and betray. It exposes the fragility and hypocrisy of social norms that restrict individual freedom and creativity. It invites the audience to question their own assumptions and prejudices, and to recognize the complexity and ambiguity of human relationships. And it reminds us that great cinema is not just about entertainment or escapism, but about confronting the harsh realities of life with honesty, empathy, and insight.

Ossessione is a 1959 action movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 14 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6.

Where to Watch Ossessione
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 14 min
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (8,196)