5 Must-See Films Starring Stefania Sandrelli
This year’s Leopard Club Award recipient is Italian actress Stefania Sandrelli, one of the major film stars of her home country. Having made her acting debut at age 15, she has shown her talent across multiple genres, under the direction of filmmakers like Bernardo Bertolucci, Mario Monicelli, Pietro Germi, Ettore Scola, Antonio Pietrangeli, Bigas Luna and, in more recent years, Paolo Virzì and Carlo Mazzacurati. In honor of her presence in Locarno, here are five key titles from her filmography.
Seduced and Abandoned (Sedotta e abbandonata, 1964)
After a minor role in Divorce Italian Style (Divorzio all’italiana, 1961), Sandrelli reteamed with Pietro Germi, this time playing the lead. And what a lead: as Agnese, a young girl whose honor is at stake after she’s seduced and impregnated by her sister’s fiancé, the actress – aged 18 at the time – gives a performance that is both hilarious and startlingly mature, cementing her status as a talent to watch.
I Knew Her Well (Io la conoscevo bene, 1965)
Antonio Pietrangeli’s comedy-drama (also starring another Locarno honoree, Mario Adorf) features Sandrelli at her best, as a woman who relentlessly pursues her dreams, in spite of the many obstacles she faces along the way. She shines in a far from romanticized portrait of Italy’s obsession with fame, and can count on solid support from the likes of Ugo Tognazzi and Nino Manfredi.
The Conformist (Il conformista, 1970)
Bernardo Bertolucci’s political drama, based on Alberto Moravia’s novel of the same name, is a riveting character study drenched in doubt and fear against the backdrop of fascism. Sandrelli moves alongside Jean-Louis Trintignant’s would-be assassin in an eerie cinematic landscape, impeccably conjured by Vittorio Storaro’s images, and stars in an unconventional love triangle that adds to the film’s occasionally dreamlike quality.
We All Loved Each Other So Much (C’eravamo tanto amati, 1974)
Ettore Scola’s snapshot of post-war Italy, seen through the eyes of three friends who go their separate ways, is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. On equal footing with her male co-stars Nino Manfredi and Vittorio Gassman, Sandrelli treads familiar ground in a performance reminiscent of her turn in I Knew Her Well, but with a different kind of sadness in her eyes that adds to the film’s emotional intensity.
Jamón Jamón (1992)
Bigas Luna’s comedy-drama, a deft mix of satire, eroticism and wordplay, casts Sandrelli as a manipulative mother, whose schemes to prevent her son (Jordi Mollà) from getting married end up being her own downfall (the closing credits wittily identify the character not by name, but based on a rather apt description of her actions). Acting in Spanish, the actress indulges a less sympathetic side of her on-screen persona, while still conveying enough humanity to make the tragic conclusion more affecting.Max Borg