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Anna is a fiercely independent blind woman. Her husband Carl has to sell the apartment they lived in and move in an old house in a remote location surrounded by fields. Anna is not happy there and feels even more isolated as she is most of the time all alone - but eery noises and strange facts lead her to think that someone is in the house too - or "something".Written by
This movie opens with a couple in a bathroom. A man stands at the sink, towel around his waist, touching up his beard with a straight razor. His wife is in the shower, appearing to be in some private reverie as she bathes, director Domiziano Cristopharo capturing this act from all angles. This scene has little bearing on the story other than to establish that the woman is generously endowed and has a well-groomed pubic region. (It should be mentioned here that she's played by former adult movie star Roberta Gemma.) It also gives a clue that she's supposed to be blind, but chances are that detail won't be noticed as Cristopharo is more concerned with capturing the water cascading over her ample bosom.
The opening scene is also something of a misdirect, suggesting this is going to be little more than a spooky soft-core porn movie. If only that were so. After that thorough introduction of Gemma's bod and a cursory flash of her co-star Arian Levanael's butt, the couple -- Anna and Carlo -- move from the city to Carlo's childhood home in the country. While Carlo, a university professor (sure), is at work Anna tries to familiarize herself with her new surroundings with the aid of a phone app that audibly identifies items she photographs. Weird things begin to happen: the landline phones ring, but there is only static on the line when Anna picks up; she bumps into a figure that may or may not have been there; and there's a room that remains locked for some reason. And why is Carlo always getting up in the middle of the night?
Cristopharo is clearly aiming to make an atmospheric thriller with supernatural elements, but his movie can't quite overcome its "Skinemax" aesthetic. Though she's playing a professor's wife, Gemma's often costumed like she's appearing in one of her adult movies (I don't think women wear 6-inch spike heels in their leisure time as often as TV and movies want us to believe). There are a lot of bath and shower scenes to show off the leads' physical attributes, though, interestingly, not a whole lot of sex. The sex scenes we get -- one relatively explicit -- aren't particularly remarkable, which would be forgivable if "The Transparent Woman" otherwise had strong actors and solid script. As physically impressive as Gemma and Levanael are, they don't have the acting chops the story requires. Gemma is actually fairly convincing when she doesn't have to speak, but her line delivery has a third-grader-in-a-school-pageant quality. (Mitigating factor: the movie is in English but Italian is her native language.) Lavanael describes himself on Twitter as a "Yogi, Aerialist, 1000 RYT yoga teacher, photographer, life liver and gatekeeper to the temple of stars." Not included on that list is "actor," and there's a reason for that. As for the script, the dialogue is as stilted as Gemma and Lavanael's delivery of it.
Flawed though it is, I did find "The Transparent Woman" to be reasonably engaging, which is why I really wished it was better than it is. And when I gave up on it being a good movie, I began to hope it would be trashy fun -- there was still time for it to become spooky soft-core porn -- but was again let down. Those looking for an atmospheric thriller/ghost story would do better to instead watch Oz Perkins' "I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House." Those drawn to "The Transparent Woman"'s leads would do better to seek out the movies Gemma made under the name Roberta Missoni and/or follow Levanael on Instagram.
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