Nicole Kidman's career blossomed after Tom Cruise dumped her; might the same thing happen for Penélope Cruz? Judge for yourself by seeking out Sergio Castellitto's murky sexual melodrama, in which the Spanish beauty gives a revelatory performance as a bow-legged, near-destitute slattern who willingly embarks on a self-destructive affair with a married doctor.
Watching the Captain Corelli actress tackle a role so far removed from her eye-candy Tinseltown image will unsettle some viewers, but not as much as seeing her being beaten, raped and throttled by her surgeon lover (played with brooding intensity by Castellitto himself). The fact that she seems to get off on the abuse she suffers adds another layer of squirm to an already squalid tale that predictably ends in tears. Cruz, however, has rarely been better, which begs the question: why has she been unable to find a Hollywood vehicle worthy of her talents?