[Screen It]


(2000) (Kristin Scott Thomas, Sean Penn) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Mild Heavy Mild Moderate
Minor Minor Mild None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild Mild Minor Moderate Moderate

Drama: A beautiful, but penniless British widow finds her world turned upside down when her involvement with various men, including a one-night stand with one of them, leads to unexpected repercussions in pre-WWII Italy.
It's 1938 Florence and Mary Panton (KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS) is widowed and penniless English woman who's currently living at an acquaintances' villa. Things aren't so bleak for Mary, however, as Sir Edgar Swift (JAMES FOX), a near lifelong friend of hers who's about to be appointed Governor of Bengal, asks for her hand in marriage. Mary isn't so much concerned about the two and half decade difference in their ages as much as the fact that she doesn't deeply love him, and thus asks for several days to think over her reply.

Mary's jaded and older friend, the Princess San Ferdinando (ANNE BANCROFT), thinks she's putting too much emphasis on love and that she should instead consider the social position such a marriage would provide her. Besides, the Princess states that if Mary became bored in such an arrangement, she could simply take lovers as she once did.

With Edgar away on business and still contemplating his proposal, Mary meets three men at one of the Princess' parties who will forever change her life. First, there's Rowley Flint (SEAN PENN), a married American playboy with a bad reputation and penchant for hitting on the ladies, including Mary. Then there's Beppino Leopardi (MASSIMO GHINI), a Fascist official who acts courteous, but seems to have a disdain for the aristocratic foreigners. Finally, there's Karl Richter (JEREMY DAVIES), an Austrian refugee brought in at the last moment to entertain the party's dinner guests.

Unfortunately, his violin playing is quite bad, and while the others make fun of him, Mary feels bad for the chap. Later, after Rowley berates her for considering partaking in a loveless marriage, and that it would be a bad thing for her, Mary decides to have a one-night fling with Karl, hoping their encounter would brighten his otherwise sad life, and thus make her feel better about herself.

Much to her surprise, it does much more than that. As such, Mary suddenly finds herself involved in a situation that becomes progressively more volatile with each action she takes, and must then figure out what to do to set things straight before Edgar returns as she drags others into the mess she's created.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's rather unlikely.
For thematic elements.
  • KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS plays a widowed and penniless English woman whose decision to brighten a poor man's life via a one-night stand turns her world upside down. When things go bad after that, she tries to cover up her involvement and inevitably gets others involved in her mess.
  • SEAN PENN plays an American playboy whose bad reputation precedes him and hits on Mary despite being married and knowing she's seeing someone else. When she asks for his help once things get dicey, he helps her break the law.
  • ANNE BANCROFT plays an older and somewhat jaded princess whose stories of her sordid affairs set Mary down the wrong path.
  • JAMES FOX plays a dignified man who's about to be appointed Governor of Bengal and proposes to Mary for her hand in marriage
  • MASSIMO GHINI plays a Fascist official who's courteous to the well-to-do foreigners, but obviously doesn't like them and then becomes suspicious of both Mary and Rowley after a crime has been committed. JEREMY DAVIES plays a polite and humble Austrian refugee who turns into a spurned lover when Mary lets him know that their encounter was nothing more than a one-night stand.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief look at the content found in this PG-13 rated period drama. An off-screen, one-night affair takes place (all we see is brief kissing beforehand and then him getting dressed and her under the sheets afterwards), while there's some non-graphic talk about married women taking lovers if they get bored in their marriages of social convenience.

    That one-night stand leads to some serious repercussions, including a tense scene between the jilted man and his now reluctant paramour that eventually ends in suicide (via a self-inflicted, but not particularly bloody gunshot wound to the chest).

    That act then leads to various characters trying to cover up that incident as well as their later lies that soon get them into trouble and lead to a few other tense moments. Various other bad attitudes are also present, as is some social drinking and one scene where the protagonist purposefully gets another woman drunk so that she can snoop through her personal belongings.

    Profanity is rated as minor due to only a smattering of related words, while a few characters smoke several times during the film. Should this brief summary of the film's content not completely address your concerns about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home, you may want to take a closer look at our more detailed content listings for more specific information.

  • People have drinks at a party and later do the same at a party the Princess throws (including Mary and Rowley at the latter engagement).
  • Mary tells Rowley that her former husband killed himself from too much drinking.
  • Mary and Karl have some wine while eating.
  • The Princess, Mary, Rowley and others have wine with lunch.
  • After the Princess tells Mary that she's drinking some tonic "with just a splash of gin," Mary proceeds to order more of them for the Princess so that she'll end up drunk (which she does).
  • Rowley pours himself a drink.
  • Edgar and Mary have drinks.
  • We see a small, bloody bullet hole on a person's shirt where they shot themselves while committing suicide.
  • We see a bit of blood on Rowley's face, hand and shirt, thus suggesting that he was beaten to some degree while in police custody.
  • The Princess and others are condescending toward Karl and his attempts at violin playing. Later, when it's reported that Karl allegedly committed suicide, the Princess jokes she would have killed herself as well if she played that badly.
  • Rowley hits on Mary despite being married and knowing that Edgar has already proposed to her.
  • Addressing a group of well-to-do Europeans, Beppino, who's a fascist, announces that his country no longer wants the tramps and vagabonds of other countries arriving in Italy.
  • Mary has a one-night stand with Karl and then tells him the next day that they can't see each other again (for which he gets mad and threatens her).
  • Mary and Rowley conspire to cover up a suicide that took place in her bedroom, dispose of the body in the woods, and then act as if nothing happened.
  • Mary gets the Princess drunk so that she can snoop through her belongings to get some letters with which she can blackmail someone.
  • After Mary informs him that their one-night stand was just that and that they can't see each other again, Karl becomes agitated and then angry, while Mary understandably gets nervous, especially when he starts talking about cutting her throat. As such, she grabs the handgun Edgar gave her and holds it on Karl. He slowly approaches her, she drops the gun and he then has her cornered in her bedroom. After she rebukes his advances after he pins her to the bed and tries kissing her, he picks up the gun and aims it at her. As we watch her, however, we hear the sound of the gun go off (as he's committed suicide by shooting himself).
  • Mary and Rowley are nearly discovered as they try to dispose of a body late at night on the side of a road.
  • Mary's encounters with Beppino (who's partially interrogating her about the suicide and her and Rowley's involvement with it) may be tense or unsettling to some viewers.
  • Rifles: Carried by Italian soldiers.
  • Handgun: Given to Mary by Edgar for her protection and she later uses it in an attempt to ward off a man in her bedroom.
  • Handgun: Used by a man to commit suicide.
  • Phrases: "Whore."
  • Mary has a one-night stand with Karl.
  • The sudden sound of a gunshot (off-camera) might startle some viewers.
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music plays in a few scenes.
  • None.
  • At least 3 damns, 1 hell, 3 uses of "Good God," 2 of "Oh God" and 1 use each of "For God's sakes" and "Dear God" as exclamations.
  • In the background of a party scene, there appears to be a classic art sculpture of a nude woman. Later, a classic art bust shows a bare breast.
  • Lucky, a man whom Mary meets at a museum, is gay, but we don't see any related activity.
  • The Princess complains that with everyone leaving Italy, the only people left to invite to her parties are sodomites and middle-aged lesbians.
  • As Mary and the Princess talk about marriages of convenience and social status, the Princess tells Mary that she could take lovers if she gets bored, just as the Princess has done in the past (and she talks about "fun, sex, and champagne" in the afternoon). She then briefly goes on about a one-night stand she once had (but doesn't say anything explicit).
  • Heeding the story the Princess told about giving a poor man one night of pleasure, Mary does the same for Karl (we see them kissing, time passes and we then see him getting dressed while she's under the covers, thus implying that they had sex).
  • Mary and Rowley passionately kiss, but nothing else happens between them.
  • Rowley and Beppino smoke a few times, while Mary and the Princess smoke once (various miscellaneous characters also smoke at parties or other social functions).
  • We learn that Mary is a widow (after twelve years of marriage) and she states that she stayed with her husband even when he got rough with her.
  • One-night stands and the many repercussions they can have.
  • Pre-WWII Europe and the growing fascism in Italy during that time.
  • Marriages for convenience or improving/securing one's social status.
  • Mary slaps Rowley.
  • A person commits suicide (we hear the shot, but only later see the body with a small, bloody bullet hole in their shirt).
  • Rowley slaps Mary to make her regain her composure.
  • We see a bit of blood on Rowley's face, hand and shirt, thus suggesting that he was beaten to some degree while in police custody.

  • Reviewed April 24, 2000 / Posted May 5, 2000

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [1917] [Bombshell] [Cats] [Little Women] [Spies In Disguise] [Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker] [Uncut Gems]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2020 Screen It, Inc.