Briganti – Amore e libertà [Bandits - Love & Freedom] (1993) - Bath Time With Monica May 25, 2018 08:00
The age old story of disputed love between the wealthy and the poor. How do you improve upon a plot that's been recycled since almost the beginning of time? Well, Monica Bellucci in a corset or giving herself a sponge bath is a start.
Briganti – Amore e libertà (Bandits – Love & Freedom) is another rare and early Italian film featuring the lovely Monica Bellucci once again in various stages of undress. The story takes place in 1838 Naples where a bandit named Caruso is shot and killed by one of Baron San Germano's trusted men after being discovered cavorting in one of the Baron's barns. The woman he was with becomes pregnant and gives birth to a boy she names Giovanni, and she becomes the nurse of the the Baron's orphaned niece Costanza. Thirteen years later Giovanni and Costanza are discovered making out in the courtyard in the middle of the night, enraged the Baron sends Costanza to a convent and Giovanni to his death.
Giovanni is able to escape his fate and spends the next years fending for himself, eventually joining a group of bandits. Monica Bellucci plays the grow up Costanza, entering the convent as a rather bland looking teenager and coming out a goddess! (Those nuns have some sort of magic!) Costanza returns home to find out her uncle and just died, and quickly becomes the desire of many of the men in the town.
Giovanni, never having lost his passion for her returns to take Costanza away but she turns him down with plans to become a nun, yet instead she ends up marrying a weaselly looking, wealthy old guy whom she's obviously not in love with (probably due to blackmail or some sense of family obligation). Still her bandit suitor refuses to give up, and invests in the help of his gang in kidnapping Costanza while she's traveling with her husband. She puts up a fight at first but eventually gives into the efforts of Giovanni.
Even though this was another film I was only able to find in Italian (and without subtitles) the story is extremely simple which made the language barrier fairly easy to overcome. With a run-time of only about 90 minutes Briganti is much easier to sit through than the three hour mini-series Vita coi figli. But to it's credit Vita coi figli managed to have a pretty interesting story-line that did a decent job of keeping my attention, Briganti's story at it's core is simply an overly recycled upper vs lower class love story; an Italian version of Romeo and Juliet without the tragic ending.
It's a film I imagine gets limited attention due to the sole fact that Monica Bellucci is in it, and like Vita coi figli Bellucci doesn't make an appearance until midway through the film, after the backstory and character history had been established. But for those die hard Bellucci fans this has enough Monica in it to make it bearable. And with Monica running around in a corset or nothing at all, and likely the hottest woman who would have ever lived in the 1800's how could it disappoint?