Monica Bellucci movies

Monica Bellucci – The many cinematographic lives of an Italian diva

Let’s start the New Year as best we can with the grace and sensuality of Monica Bellucci, easily one of the most beautiful among the most beautiful stars on the international movie scene.

A success that does not stem from an acting talent so much as extraordinary, yet this stunning Italian woman has succeeded better than many aspiring divas with an undeniable magnetic screen presence over the years.

Despite what people say, beauty can be a double-edged sword: while obviously an attractive woman always has more job opportunities, especially in the cinematic field, on the other hand, the more beautiful you are, the easier it is to fall into the trap of always interpreting the same all-curvy female to be objectified as a forbidden desire.

On the contrary, sweet Monica has a respectable filmography ranging across the most unthinkable and disparate roles: from the insane and cruel queen in Terry Gilliam‘s The Brothers Grimm fairy tale to the sexy vampire/ancestor of Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola‘s masterpiece of the same name, where while still very young she seduced Keanu Reeves and the worldwide audience with her unforgettable and bloody topless.

We therefore pay tribute to one of the greatest still-living legends of Italian cinema, with a small selection of films in which the buxom Monica Bellucci fully embodied the best of her talents.

Dobermann (1997)

Dobermann 1997 movie
Amazon movie

First on the list is an absolutely off-the-wall film from way back in the 1990s, featuring Monica Bellucci as the beautiful and wacky Nathalie, a deaf-mute criminal and companion of the ferocious Yann Le Pentrec, aka Dobermann, undisputed boss of an alienated gang of bank robbers.

An amalgam of subjects on society’s fringes, such as an excommunicated priest, the nervous Mosquito and Pitbull with his finger always on the trigger, along with Manu and Leo, a pair of gypsies as dangerous as they are naive and childish, closing the circle with young Oliver, for his family a young and innocent college graduate, yet known in the business as the drag queen Sonia and arranging the hits for the gang.

Sometimes, Dobermann struggles to hold this motley mix of eccentric, disturbed personalities together (not that he is any less), although they all agree on their unending hatred toward the police and the odd nomadic life of driving around in fancy cars like Ferraris or Lamborghinis.

However, the police also hate them fiercely in turn, organizing a special team under the command of the bumbling Commissioner Clodarec, who, however, has at his side the much more cunning and ruthless Inspector Cristini, ready to do anything (legal or not) to frame the elusive Doberman pack.

Director Jan Kounen stages a heist movie somewhere between pulp/action and black comedy, dismantling French society for a struggle of good against evil, where good, however, seems not to exist at all.

Simply outstanding is the bizarre Bonnie and Clyde-esque couple consisting of Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, also partners in life for a long time, as well as together on the set in countless French-production movies with always something unique and original to distinguish them from the crowd.

Malèna (2000)

Malèna 2000 movie
Amazon Prime Video

With the next movie, we return to the past for a story with an all-Italian soul where, this time, Monica Bellucci is the silent Maddalena, the unreachable forbidden fruit for every man in a small village in Sicily during World War II.

Her beauty, in fact, is more of a curse than a gift, as every day an army of suitors (more or less intrusive) besiege and give her no respite since her husband Antonino left for the front.

The story’s young protagonist, little Renato, also has a constant obsession with the woman and spends every minute of his free time spying and dreaming about the most incredible adventures with her.

When she learns her husband fell in combat, there is no escape for Malèna except to give herself to all those men buzzing around her forever, including some Nazis who will invade the country before the end of the war.

Giuseppe Tornatore paints a harsh and ironic portrait of the many facets of Italian nature: from the warmth and emotion of a nation that never seems to rest to the cruel exploitation and, finally, the destruction of beauty by greed and personal desire.

Monica Bellucci brings her glowing sensuality to the stage with a character who could almost be the protagonist of a silent movie; speaking more with the conturbing curves of her body, virtually omnipresent in every frame of this vintage melodrama.

Very funny is the youthful Giuseppe Sulfaro as the story’s narrator, practically the alter ego of the child Salvatore in the famous Cinema Paradiso, still Tornatore’s greatest international success to this day.

Lots of irony, sexuality, and pure cinema for a strange fairy tale from another era, full of nostalgia and the desire to live and love at any cost.

Under Suspicion (2000)

Under Suspicion 2000 movie
Amazon Prime Video

We change entirely the movie genre with a breathtaking thriller taking place all in the span of a single night.

This time, Monica Bellucci is young Chantal, a trophy wife living in San Juan within an unhappy marriage with the adamant Henry Hearst, the Puerto Rican capital’s top lawyer.

While parades and celebrations for St. Sebastian’s Day rage in the city, the local police captain, Victor Benezet, is in a completely different mood as he must deal with the horrendous case of several little girls raped and murdered in the slums.

To his astonishment, some local prostitutes report repeatedly seeing Mr. Hearst at crime scenes, so the police arrest and bring him to the station for questioning.

Benezet and Hearst have known and resent each other since they were boys because the captain has always been envious of the luxury and power of his archenemy/friend and, of course, envying (like everyone else in town) his charming bride.

The interrogation soon becomes a personal war between these two men, while behind the scenes, the beautiful Chantal reveals how the marriage was actually never the paradise everyone always believed it to be.

Stephen Hopkins is a director about whom we cannot say he ever made masterpieces during his long career; yet likewise, we cannot say he ever disappointed expectations with well-entertaining movies such as Judgment NightBlown Away, or Predator 2.

The real stars are two unparalleled movie monsters like Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman, engaging in a relentless verbal duel, while the magnetic Monica Bellucci is the spark igniting the fire of hatred between these two men.

In short, a little-known but respectable thriller to be enjoyed all in one breath while admiring the side profile of the beautiful Italian diva.

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

Brotherhood of the Wolf 2001 movie
Amazon Prime Video

Keeping changing location and historical period, we go back to the distant days of the French Revolution, where Monica Bellucci has a small (but crucial) role in this action-adventure costume drama.

For years now, a small village in the south has lived in constant fear because a shadowy, murderous beast attacks anyone it finds wandering alone on the moors.

Exhausted by yet another victim, the nobles offer a prize to finally kill the animal, thus attracting hunters from all over France, ready to do anything to win the rich spoils.

Grégoire De Fronsac, a celebrated knight famous for numerous hunting expeditions overseas, from which he has returned with Mani, a skilled native warrior and trusted best friend, also answers the call.

However, something is wrong with the precision of these attacks and the apparent invulnerability of this creature, so Grégoire will discover a much larger and darker plot lurking behind these killings.

Directing this little action/horror gem is Christophe Gans, skillful director of a few but solid flicks such as Crying Freeman or Silent Hill, one of the few video game transpositions to be genuinely worthy of the big screen.

Once again, Vincent Cassel is a perverse and nasty villain who will face a lot of trouble with the brave Samuel Le Bihan and his associate Mark Dacascos, a skilled martial actor whom we recently admired in the third John Wick chapter.

In this case, Monica Bellucci is the mysterious Sylvia, the absolute queen of the urban pleasure den, who will be the only one to really help the hero in the movie, even when it is too late.

An excellent example of European cinema with purely American spectacular style, in a nice blend from which a chimera is born as the ferocious predatory monster that everyone hunts.

Secret Agents (2004)

Secret Agents 2004 movie

Finally, a small and almost unknown cherry on the cake, we have an intriguing mix of espionage and French-style detective/noir (which is the so-called POLAR genre) where, once again, Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci dominate the scene unchallenged.

Indeed, the pair play spies, Georges and Lisa, on a secret mission to help some African rebels recover and/or destroy a valuable shipment of weapons arriving illegally by sea in Morocco.

Despite misunderstandings with the rest of the team and Lisa’s growing desire to get out of the business and start a new life, the plan succeeds, and they strike and sink the ship in one blow, along with all the ruthless mercenaries on board.

However, upon returning home, Georges discovers that it is not over yet, as some American gunmen are on their trail for revenge, while Lisa is sent on one last mission to kill a dangerous inmate in a women’s prison.

Making it out alive will not be easy, especially when, as usual for the genre, even among their own colleagues are those who play dirty.

Despite the intricate and adventurous plot and espionage background, director Frédéric Schoendoerffer wisely opts for a more peaceful rhythm whereby he calmly explores the motivations and personalities of the various characters.

I chose this movie because it is one of the few instances in which Monica Bellucci surpasses in prowess Vincent Cassel, this time having just been relegated to the pure action side in excellent chase, fight, and shoot-out scenes.

Monica gives up her sunshine beauty with a more subdued character, both aesthetically and emotionally, a woman almost resigned to fighting for a cause she no longer believes in, nevertheless always remaining an adversary not to be underestimated in cunning and skill.

In short, it is a perfect exclamation point that concludes a series of movies where the Italian actress also proves she knows how to act and not just be beautiful to look at; perhaps never reaching Oscar-winning performances, but able to indelibly carve her name in the collective imagination of the cinematic public. What do you think? Do you like these movies, or have you never heard of them before today?

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