A Leap in the Dark
Italy | 1980 | 120 min
Language : Italian
Subtitles : English, French
Anouk Aimée and Michel Piccoli throw themselves body and soul into this dizzying huis clos by Marco Bellocchio. The silent, uneventful routine of these melancholic siblings crumbles when Giovanni, a brilliant actor and scoundrel, insinuates himself into their orderly life. This modern and ethereal drama scooped up both acting awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980.
The first image of Salto nel vuoto is a window opening inwards onto the hermitic face of Judge Ponticelli (Michel Piccoli), annoyed more than outraged at the discovery of a body. The judge, terrified by the possibility of chaos, leads an orderly and predictable life, vulnerable to disorder. An incompetent man-child in his daily life – he is scarcely able to make himself coffee –, he is caught up in a co-dependent relationship with his sister Marta (the elusive Anouk Aimée). Both prone to the deadliest urges – she to suicide, he obsessed with the death of others –, their system disintegrates when a brilliant actor and scoundrel, Giovanni, enters their world. Marta’s economic alienation by her brother and the strain this puts on her mental health enable the film to provide an argument on hegemonic masculinity as well as its consequences. The film is like a materialist reinterpretation of Vertigo shaped by the influence of Akerman, and fuelled by an ethereal mise en scène that sows seeds of doubt right up to its most essential reverse angle shots. Tragic and excessive.