Sexpot Italian Actress Turns Serious In a Movie About Hate and ViolenceMonica Bellucci is not what she used to be. Often underestimated as nothing more than a comely actress who relied on her voluptuous allure for success, she has matured. At 31, the Italian actress was full of confidence at a press conference at the Berlin International Film Festival last Sunday. Her comportment was straightforward and unrestrained.
Married to the French actor Vincent Cassel, she has made impressive appearances in such movies as "L'Appartement" (1996).
But the reason for her presence at the Berlin festival is her latest starring role in the movie "Malena" (2000), up for consideration in the film competition.
Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, the man behind the hit movie "Cinema Paradiso" (1989), "Malena" tells a story about the desolation wreaked by the World War II.
In this darkly sardonic film, Ms. Bellucci plays the lead role, an Italian woman who is told her husband has been killed in the war. Turning to prostitution, she becomes an object of lust for nearly every man in her small town and an object of hatred for women － a hatred that sometimes even descends into violence.
"I am quite different from the character in this movie," she said. "If I were her, I would not put up with all that hardship. But that was the 1940s and this is the 21st century."
Ms. Bellucci does not have many lines in the movie. "It was tough, because I had to act without many words. I considered myself a musical instrument. Like a pianist, who speaks through the piano, I expressed my character though my body."
The actress and model was vehement about the role of sexual desire in the film, which has been criticized as simply cashing in on her sex appeal.
"This film is definitely not interested in stimulating its viewers' sexual desire. Actually, it is making a statement of resistance against a society where men have mastery over everything."
She went on to say jokingly, "Men are like animals, in that their sexual violence screws up the whole society. I'd like to dedicate this film to the women who are dominated by men."
She may speak like a warrior, but the conclusion she came to was more peace-seeking than warlike. She emphasized that she hopes that harmony between men and women can be achieved.
Just like Malena, whose search for identity brings her face to face with life's bitterness, the actress thinks that men and women must learn to coexist.
Ms. Bellucci recently finished filming her next movie, "Cleopatra," in which she co-stars with Gerard Depardieu.
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