May 9, 2019

Italian actress Monica Bellucci’s guided tour of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing

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here’s what she says, sitting there in her high-heeled knee-high boots and her leather skirt and her black, stretchy blouse: Everybody gets one great, unrequited love, one object of longing so pristine and superlative as to stay perfect in memory forever—no, in fact, to improve beyond all reason with the passing of the years. To hear her tell it, in a supple Italian accent that somehow evokes fluffy pillows and the cooing of doves, that is desire at its most crystalline and its most cruel. Also, these intense manifestations of real and true want, they come in the form of a pang, she says, much like a great hunger—a sharp, stabbing blow to the stomach. Sí About these things, she is correct, this Monica Bellucci. That is what desire is: Desire is physical. Desire is an ache. Sí Having felt it your (own self, you’ll know exactly what he’s feeling, the boy in Bellucci’s new film, Malèna. It is rock-poor Sicily under the fascists in 1941 The boy is thirteen, the age when desire is forged, white-hot and desperate. She is the woman who will make him a man (not that way) (the tragic war widow upon whom a villageful of crones and horny old men project their respective hatreds and lusts, the voluptuous (enchantress whose daily promenade through the piazza is a Richter-scale event. Sí For reasons you might expect, the real-life Monica Bellucci often finds herself on the receiving end of the desire equation. But, you know, she wants things, too. She is a star in Europe, but she’d like you American fellas to know her, also. Esquire is doing its share; from the Women We Love feature this past October, page 163, she graduates here to the cover. By the way, she’s the one who did it. The caviar, I mean. She rubbed herself with a bit of glycerin so as to become sticky, and she applied the caviar to her body herself, standing up, using her hands. Si Now, then: Bellucci has lived thirty two summers and thirty-two winters. An only child from the village of Città di Castello in Umbria, she studied law for a time but opted instead for modeling and moved (to Milan. When modeling, she explains, “I play with my body” (hey, you—she is talking about her (work!), thus, being slathered in caviar or drenched with the proceeds of beehives is jake with her. “For me, the pictures are not something less important than movies, just two different ways to make art.” Sí Still, she focused her energies on the cinema ten years ago, and she’s made more than a dozen French and Italian movies in the time since. She flickered briefly on American screens in 1992 as one of the brides in Bram Stoker’s Dracula but would not be seen again stateside until her role with Gene Hackman and Morgan (Freeman in last year’s Under Suspicion. Sí Her new movie is in Italian with English subtitles, but you should see it anyway; it’s fun(ny, sad, and beautifully shot. You should especially see it if you’re the kind who might enjoy lavish worship of her every curve and sinew, particularly those that swivel during locomotion, and the little twin spots where the garters peek out from underneath the skirt. Or, perhaps, if you need a candidate for that unrequited-love thing. Ask any guy from Città di Castello—you probably wouldn’t be the first. Or the last. —TED ALLEN

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