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RELEASES Italy

An action Bellucci in esoteric thriller

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Her hair short and lightened, with little or no make-up, a tormented expression and everyday clothing: Monica Bellucci as we've never seen her before, in The Stone Council [+see also:
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, the esoteric thriller by Guillaume Nicloux, out in Italy on June 15 through 01 Distribution.

The absolute star of this French/German/Italian co-production, presented last October at the RomeFilmFest, the unglamorous and maternal Bellucci plays Laura, a mother suffering for her adopted son, a Mongolian boy named Liu-San (the ethereal Nicolas Thau) who begins have recurring dreams of forests and monstrous animals as he approaches his seventh birthday, and on whose chest a strange mark appears.

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Like her son, Laura also becomes tormented by nightmares and hallucinations that push her towards uncontrollable anxiety. Her only friends, Sybille (a stern and brunette Catherine Deneuve) and Lucas (Sami Bouajila), actually kidnap Liu-San, who is discovered to be a young healer, descendent of an ancient Mongolian tribe that will be rendered immortal by his sacrifice.

"Guillaume knows that if an actor actually suffers a bit, his expressions will be more appropriate to the situation that his character is going through," said the actress. "In fact, during the tunnel scene, I had a real sense of claustrophobia. It’s plain to see and this allowed me to express my natural fear".

"Monica’s performance is one of the fundamental points of the film," commented the director. "She always seems suspended by a thread, there is as an element of frailty, reserve and grace that renders her performance absolutely unique. Besides which she doesn’t act in her own language and this is decisive".

Her performance in French in the French-language picture renders Bellucci more natural, not as affected as we’re used to hearing in her in Italian. The photography by Peter Suschitzky (David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence) is also strong. Yet the plot, loosely based on the eponymous novel by Jean-Christophe Grangé, sometimes gets lost in connections that are hard to decipher, undefined secondary characters and a series of murders that leave audiences somewhat indifferent.

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(Translated from Italian)

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