6.6/10
21,797
85 user 45 critic

Stealing Beauty (1996)

After her mother commits suicide, nineteen year old Lucy Harmon travels to Italy to have her picture painted. However, she has other reasons for wanting to go. She wants to renew her ... See full summary »

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3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Carlo Cecchi ...
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Diana (as Sinead Cusack)
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Anna Maria Gherardi ...
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Ian
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Ignazio Oliva ...
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Mary Jo Sorgani ...
Leonardo Treviglio ...
Lieutenant
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Storyline

After her mother commits suicide, nineteen year old Lucy Harmon travels to Italy to have her picture painted. However, she has other reasons for wanting to go. She wants to renew her acquaintance with Nicolo Donati, a young boy with whom she fell in love on her last visit four years ago. She also is trying to solve the riddle left in a diary written by her dead mother, Sara. Written by Kale Whorton <nikko11@mind.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most beautiful place to be is in love.

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, nudity, some drug use and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

14 June 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dancing by Myself  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$103,028 (USA) (16 June 1996)

Gross:

$4,573,330 (USA) (15 September 1996)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The three poems we see Lucy (Liv Tyler) compose while in Italy are:
  • 1. I have her secret deep within for years I've had to hide I've bought the clues And now I'm hope To bring the truth outside
  • 2. I wait I wait so patiently I'm as quiet as a cup I hope you'll come and rattle me Quick! Come wake me up.
  • 3. The dye is cast The dice are rolled I feel like shit you look like gold.
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Goofs

When Richard tells Lucy to stick out her tongue, her hair changes between shots from loose in front of her left shoulder, to tucked neatly behind it. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lucy: What are you doing?
See more »

Connections

References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

VARIAZONI SU UN TEMA MESSICANO
Performed by Soc. Filarmonica di Gaiole in Chianti
Written by Luigi Ceccarelli
Arranged by Fabio Polese
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User Reviews

 
A master work by a master director. Excellent!
30 May 2006 | by (France) – See all my reviews

I am a Bertolucci fan, and this film is one of the reasons why. I watch it again and again and never get tired of it. Don't be fooled by the 'losing virginity' theme; this film is about life, and death, and everything that happens in between. It's about what you seek and what you're willing to give up to get it.

One of the best things about this film is that every character has a story, and an arc in the film, most of which is given by just one or two lines or shots in the film. For example, near the end of the film, Sinead Cusack's character slumps at the table after having taken an old friend to the hospital, probably for the last time. She says she misses England "and rain, and milk that goes off", and says that she's tired of looking after people. Then everyone starts coming in and asking about dinner, and she just gets up and opens the fridge. In less than a minute, we see into her life and character in a way that most films would take at least an act to explore. We even learn a lot about Lucy's mother (Lucy is played by a young Liv Tyler), even though she has died before the beginning of the film and never appears in it except in a photograph (also of Tyler).

There is not a flaw in any of the performances. Never do we feel that these are people acting. They just feel like people, interacting, and we always have a feeling of their life leading up to the moments we see them, and they are interesting lives.

The location itself is one of the characters, and it is beautifully shot, the colours saturated and rich. It feels like you can touch the stones, smell the air, feel the grass and flagstones beneath your bare feet. If you don't want to go to Tuscany after seeing this film, you are ill or on the wrong medication. The beauty that is being stolen, or that people want to steal, is not just the beauty of the young virgin on the hill, it is the beauty of life, of living, of learning, of looking back and finally giving it all up, knowing it cannot be stolen. I know that some people criticize Bertolucci for his aesthetic, for bringing the beauty out of every moment, even the horrible ones, and I say to those people that they live the life they choose.

Finally, there is the soundtrack, which runs from alt-pop to classical to everything in between and works perfectly. It illuminates Lucy's internal reality and is true to the music that a girl of her age would have been listening to at that time, and it also helps set the scene and smooth transitions between scenes.

This is a master work by a master director, and one of my favourite films of all time.


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