Monica Bellucci as Malèna: Beauty, Black and Heels

In Malèna (2000, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore), set during WW2 in a rural Italian town, Monica Bellucci plays an impossible vision of beauty; a woman so striking she is immediately sexualised by all who lay eyes on her. Malèna’s reaction to the leering male gaze and subsequent scorn of jealous women is expressed through her hair, make-up and clothing.

Our introduction to the character occurs with Malèna wearing a just-below-the-knee white dress, lightly padded shoulders, deep neckline incorporating dotted bow detail (this fabric is later reused for another outfit – she is a seamstress) to match black and white edging on the revers. Its tubular fit is reminiscent of the form-fitting 1930s; Bellucci’s figure is emphasised within the story world, aligning our viewpoint with young protagonist Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) and not his leering friends. Renato sees Malèna as the perfect – the only – embodiment of woman. To cope with his infatuation,
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