Nasty Love ★★★

1995 Cannes Film Festival (In Competition)

Nasty Love is hard to get a handle on, resisting the urge to be any single thing for more than a few minutes at a time. This is all the more baffling since at first glance—or second, following the arresting opening—this appears to be a fairly straightforward murder mystery, however embellished. The tricky part lies in sorting out which misdirections benefit its endgame and which hamper it. I’d argue the mysterious Caserta falls into the latter camp, ostentatiously presented as a red herring but who continues to hover silently over Delia for much of the movie. On the other hand, given Martone’s unusual blending of styles, it’s entirely possible that I’m attaching too much significance to its genre elements and not enough to Delia’s more subtle psychological odyssey. Of all the films in Competition, this is the one I’d most like a second look at.