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A VIVID WOEFUL ACCOUNT OF A VIVACIOUS WOMAN,
This review is from: The Barefoot Contessa [DVD] (DVD)
Mankiewicz starts his narrative with the death of his leading lady and the narrative brilliantly is seen from the perspective of the men who were active in her life in various roles and perspectives as they brood over her funeral .
The tragic tone is astonishingly interspersed in flashback with the joys and celebrations of a remarkable woman played by AVA GARDNER as MARIA VARGAS .
AVA virtually steals every scene from her male colleagues as her rise from a peasant girl to a showbiz celebrity is revealed ,
an assortment of ensemble cast including BOGART AND ROSANNAO BRAZZI act the whimsical lovers reminiscing at her funeral .
The vivid depiction of a vivacious life is played with a spiritual grace as a non-assuming simple girl as a plausible and appealing celebrity who still inhabits her humble garb in her latter glory.
The four men comprise a whimsical movie director ,a loud mouth press agent and a flamboyant latino playboy and lastly a sexually dysfunctional italian count .
This is a palpable tale of evil ,venomous treachery and envy born out of frustration Mankiewic uses the naive habit of the innocent woman as going around barefoot as a superlative metaphor for her naive innocence .
It is heart-rending and gardner plays it without melodrama with an under act that far exceeds any theatric giants and the bleak cynical look at hollywood and it's pitiful celebrities becomes both verbal barbs and visual arrows flung by the audio-visual bravura of a talented director .
He virtually succeeds in creating a dark Cinderella tale where the male italian aristocratic prince becomes the anti -thesis of the legend itself .
This is both an emotional tribute to the talent of ava Gardner as well as a fascinating character study of a doomed woman and a feeble jealous man imprisoned in a destructive compulsive love affair .
Mankiewicz has always extracted the best from his female stars and here he gives ava Gardner her greatest triumph where she overshadows Bogart in a huge manner and that is no mean feat .