Kirven Blount
December 01, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

It’s not easy deciphering The Conformist, Bernardo Bertolucci’s tale of a damaged Fascist functionary, yet it pays off. Trintignant’s Marcello isn’t lovable (select the original Italian, with subtitles, to avoid the Speed Racer-ish dubbing), but Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography is exquisite; the final minutes are staggering.

Bertolucci says he tells his actors, ”I need to be fed with surprises”; he considered and rejected casting Brigitte Bardot, and claims that pleading from Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Penn, and Sidney Lumet got the film its American release.

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