Now here’s a daring version of l’amour fou. In the enticingly perverse (if badly titled) Italian romantic drama Don’t Move, a worldly surgeon, Timoteo (Sergio Castellitto), with a wife (Claudia Gerini) so sexy and leonine that in virtually any other film she would have been a femme fatale, finds himself drawn as if by a magnet to Italia (Penélope Cruz), a pretty but damaged hotel maid who’s a big soggy ball of need. Their love affair begins with a rape — and the movie asks you to accept this violation on its own terms, as an act of pure mad passion for both parties.
Castellitto, who also directed, isn’t aiming for any old triangle. The affair is erotic because it’s so awkward and ”unreasonable.” What does Timoteo see in the passive, bedraggled Italia? The answer is supplied by Penélope Cruz’s first potent performance: She makes Italia touching in her hunger, as vulnerable as an exposed bone, a love object at once irresistible and doomed because she’s so desperate to be healed. Told in a tricky flashback mode that’s vivid even with a few too many temporal kinks, Don’t Move is the sort of thing that Claude Chabrol was once praised for making with more pretension and a lot less less juice.