THE GIRL BY THE LAKE
SUNDAY, 15TH NOVEMBER, 10.00 A.M.
TUESDAY, 17TH NOVEMBER, 8.30 P.M.
RUNNING TIME 95 MINUTES
It is eight o’clock in the morning when Marta, biting a doughnut, is returning home after
having slept at her aunt’s house. A truck stops: Mario, a deranged local young man,
convinces her to follow him to his farm. The alarm goes off immediately, Marta is only
six years old. Inspector Sanzio, an experienced policeman, who recently moved to that
remote area comes to the town. The younger collegue Siboldi, born in those valleys,
becomes his guide also to get to know the family ties and relationships of that small
community. The two of them, accompanied by Alfredo, Sanzio’s loyal collegue since his
time in homicide, will have to stay in town because another crime is about to be
committed; a crime probably connected to one of the families in the village, born from
a sentimental or emotional tie: everyone that Sanzio meets and interrogates could be a
potential killer. The inspector enters into the story with unusual participation: even his
own family is crossed by a sharp pain that runs parallel to the investigation.
I chose this story because between the pages of Karin Fossum's book I glimpsed the
possibility of describing tangles and family ties that could be transported from the
original setting of a Norwegian fjord to a possible Italian province without altering the
sense and humanity inherent in her novel: The story of a small community crossed by an
unusual crime, common characters, families like we know many, marked by known
conflicts, even if never resolved, fathers who out of too much love can no longer analyse
their childrens' souls, adolescents who feel they have been born into the wrong family,
adults still children due to a trick of nature, children whose aren’t comprehended by
their parents. All this humanity, all in the norm, light years away from the idea of a
crime, suddenly appears deviated, complicated. It is a crime, that lifts this lid and
overturns this scene of absolute “mediocraty”.
Filter and centre of the story, is a man. Giovanni Sanzio, an experienced inspector, also
shaken by a strong personal pain, catapulted into this town. Two external eyes that have
seen lots in the past, staring towards that small charming village frozen by an antique
Like in all thrillers we know that the inspector will probably solve the case and hand us a
culprit. But in this story the reasons of the crime are stronger than the very crime itself:
comprehend and fotograph a family drama becomes more important than finding the
culprit towads whom Sanzio, and us with him, feel more compassion and sadness than
Review by Rittu Sehgal
I can easily classify "The Girl by the Lake", by Italian director Andrea Molaioli, as a suspenseful murder-mystery, however there's nothing really typical about it.
When a clue gets discovered or unravelled, it's not a spectacular moment and there's no dramatic music. In fact even when the inspector solves the case you're almost uncertain that he's found the right person since the pace of the movie continues on like the beat of steady drum.
Why is this movie intriguing then? The murder is obviously the main plot of the movie, however it also delves into the relationships between people and how we may think we know one another only to realize we know very little.
The movie has a serene feel to it, much like where it takes place, a quiet little town in Northern Italy surrounded by the majestic Alps, where everyone says hello to one another. When a beautiful girl is found dead by the lake, the whole town becomes reserved as nearly everyone is a suspect since they all knew and loved her very well. An inspector from the city is called in to help solve the case, so it's up to him to uncover all the secrets that the town holds and put the pieces together.
Inspector Sanzio, wonderfully played by Toni Servillo, uses his extensive experience, charisma and no nonsense approach into getting people to divulge crucial information. He discovers that there are many sad stories to be told, reminding him of his own problems at home.
So although this movie tells us that, yeah, life isn't easy, it doesn't leave you with a feeling of melancholy; on the contrary, it leaves you thinking that just getting that one smile or experiencing that one moment of happiness is worth everything.