Dir: Giorgio Treves. 2000. Italy. 90 mins.
Prod co: Gierre-Film Tre. Domestic dist: Lantia Cinema e Audiovisivi. Exec prod: Sandro Frezza. Prod: Grazia Volpi. Scr: Remo Binosi, Francois De Maulde, Treves, from Binosi's play, L'Attesa. DoP: Camillo Bazzoni. Prod des: Lorenzo Baraldi. Ed: Carla Simoncelli. Music: Franco Piersanti. Main cast: Stefania Rocca, Chiara Muti, Athina Cenci, Massimo Poggio.
Adapted from a successful stage play, Rosa And Cornelia struggles onto film as an airless and static piece which remains unable to breathe life into its confined setting and theatrical plot contrivances. Some opportunistic nudity - male and female - and a mild lesbian love scene have been injected to spice up the proceedings. Even so, prospects outside the domestic market, either theatrically or on the festival circuit, look slim, though there might be bites from small-screen buyers.
The action begins in 1748 in Venice, where Cornelia (Muti), the daughter of impoverished aristocrats, is left pregnant after a wild night at the Carnival. Her condition threatens a forthcoming marriage of convenience to a wealthy Duke and she is immediately locked up in the family's crumbling country villa to await the birth. Her sole companions are Piera, her embittered former wet nurse (Cenci), the young male caretaker (Poggio) and Rosa (Rocca), a very poor woman of roughly her own age who is also expecting a baby.
It emerges that Rosa has been hired not only as a maid but, for reasons which are never entirely convincing (why ask a pregnant woman to perform this task') to kill Cornelia's child at birth. However the friendship and, eventually, love which develops between them, despite their extreme social differences, complicates the plan. Meanwhile their intimacy is observed with jealousy by both Piera and, for other reasons, the caretaker, whose lecherous designs are undeterred by the women's condition.
The film remains a two-hander with the few other characters barely given space to assert themselves; however this central relationship, with its continual, often illogical twists and turns remains less than compelling. Muti remains subdued as the spoiled daughter of privilege, while Rocca gives the more commanding performance as the vibrant servant girl whose lust for life and joyful acceptance of her pregnancy remain undiminished by the hardships of her status.