In Italian director Emanuele Crialese’s new drama “L’Immensità,” which is set in 1970s Rome, Penélope Cruz plays a mother of three who, while contending with a violent Italian husband, winds up in a psychiatric institution.
“I don’t think my character is crazy at all,” Cruz said.
“She is trapped in her family. Trapped in her home, in her body. In the situation in which she finds herself living. She doesn’t have a plan B. There is no escape,” she added.
“She’s not crazy at all. She’s oppressed in many different ways. And she simply can’t take it anymore.
“There are many women around the world trapped in their homes, who pretend in front of their children. They try to pretend that things aren’t that bad. They do this to survive.”
Cruz also pointed out that “I have played so many mothers. I’ve made seven films with Pedro, and in five of them I play a mother. That’s not a coincidence. A have a very strong maternal sense. And I am fascinated by what happens in every family.”
Domestic violence is just one of several crucial issues tackled by “L’Immensità,” which is based on Crialese’s memory of his difficult family life, with regards to his violent, close-minded father, and his experience transitioning from female to male in those days.
In the movie, the oldest of the children in the family is a 12-year-old girl named Adriana who wants to be a boy. She rejects her name and gender identity. This obstinacy breaks the fragile family’s balance. Though not strictly autobiographical, Adriana is based on Crialese’s memories.
“My journey [transitioning from female to male] is very different from the journey of kids today,” the director said. “The important thing has been to manage to transform that pain. And the way I did that was to create stories,” Crialese added.
“At a certain point I had to make a choice of whether to go on living or to die. You don’t choose to make that journey. You are born that way. I don’t have any memories of myself in which I perceived myself differently from what I have become [a male]. It’s not a choice. That’s how you come into the world.”