Updated: May 22, 2020
If you're looking for an interesting take on gender dynamics in relationships, there may be a film you've overlooked.
In 1976, Director Luchino Visconti gave us L'INNOCENTE, an adaptation of the novel by Gabriele d'Annunzio that delves into the marriage of an aristocrat couple in 19th century Rome that is suffering from marital strife in a big way. Though it is more than 40 years old and tells a story that is even older, the film tells a powerful story about the dangers of jealousy, toxic relationships, and more.
Tullio Hermil (Giancarlo Giannini) is caught up in his aristocratic pleasures, having become bored of his marriage and finding enjoyment in the alluring, independent widow, Teresa Raffo (Jennifer O'Neill). He boasts of his affair with her to his wife, Giuliana (Laura Antonelli), telling he that because their marriage's passions have faded, he must continue to pursue another woman - but that he wants Giuliana to continue supporting him by keeping the marriage intact.
Though devastated, Giuliana does not fight the matter, and in fact, after a few months, we learn that she even tried the idea of infidelity out herself, resulting in pregnancy. When Tullio learns this, he immediately becomes re-enamored with Giuliana, and disgusted at the idea of bringing a child that belongs to another man into the world. But Giuliana does not want to give up the baby.
The plot is basic but powerful, playing on themes of jealousy and entitlement, and on Tullio's desire to consume his wife and be the one in power. As the story goes on, we see the line between love and obsession become blurred, as Tullio becomes more and more ensnared in his jealousy, and Giuliana gets more and more lost under his control. It's a very interesting portrayal, with great performances by Giannini and Antonelli, and a story that leaves an impression. L'INNOCENTE is now available on demand at midtowncinema.com!