Postman [1997]

Director: Kevin Costner
Stars: Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 177 minutes

Ossessione isn't just the finest film version of The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain's classic tale of murder, betrayal, and erotic obsession; it's also the first masterpiece of Italian neorealism and a key historical precursor of film noir. A handsome drifter (Massimo Girotti) fetches up at an isolated roadhouse, gets mutually besotted with the proprietor's sultry wife (Clara Calamai), and has soon carried out a plot to murder the older man in an apparent off-road accident. That's only the beginning, of course. In his directorial debut, Luchino Visconti weaves a sensuous, tragic spell, born equally of the stark, sun-struck settings--especially those utterly realistic yet somehow otherworldly highways, elevated above the surrounding marshland--and a dynamic camera style that lifts the storytelling to operatic heights. Yet another layer of erotic complication is added by the presence of "La Spagnolo" (Elio Marcuzzo), a philosopher-king of vagabonds who--like the director--is at least as infatuated with Girotti's studly beauty as the heroine is. --Richard T. Jameson

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