After the death of her mother, 19-year old Lucy travels to an Italian country house to have her picture painted by an old friend of her mother. Her real goals are (1) to lose her virginity and (2) to discover the identity of her biological father. A pool is involved. Comparisons to A Bigger Splash are irresistible.
The story here is much more interesting. It soon becomes apparent that many people in the area have memories of her mother, although not necessarily the one she is looking for. Like most films by Bertolucci, this one is beautifully filmed, and the characters are varied and interesting. One scene involves a party at a nearby villa which is Fellini-esque in it weirdness. And the scene where Lucy finally loses her virginity is honestly and sensitively done — never mind that that the director was a middle-aged man.
The supporting cast is very strong — Jeremy Irons as a wise old gay guy, Sinead Cusack (Irons’ real-life wife) here playing the wife of someone else, and a bunch of veteran British and Italian actors. The problem is that Liv Tyler, who plays Lucy, really isn’t that good an actress — her attempts to communicate emotional depth are limited to vacant stares, You almost want to airlift Dakota Johnson in from my previously reviewed movie (A Bigger Splash).
If you like looking at Italian scenery (with pools!) this one is worth seeing. Otherwise, not so much.