Marta Spedaletti
Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 29, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Russian-born Xenia Rappoport gives it her tragic-heroine all as an abused Ukraine prostitute-turned-sneaky housemaid in Italy in The Unknown Woman, Giuseppe Tornatore’s baroquely lurid and undeniably fascinating exercise in pulp with a political angle. (Message: Forced prostitution and baby trafficking are bad.) Women are sexually abused, flashbacks pile up like a traffic jam, and a hideous brute (Michele Placido) gets what’s coming to him. For his part, Ennio Morricone delivers a score that’s its own grand serving of aural prosciutto. B

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