Stealing Beauty

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Stealing Beauty
Stealing Beauty Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Produced by Jeremy Thomas
Screenplay by Susan Minot
Story by Bernardo Bertolucci
Music by Richard Hartley
Cinematography Darius Khondji
Edited by Pietro Scalia
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 29, 1996 (1996-03-29) (Italy)
  • May 16, 1996 (1996-05-16) (France)
  • June 14, 1996 (1996-06-14) (US)
Running time
113 minutes
119 minutes (DVD)
Country France, Italy, United Kingdom, United States
Language English, French, Italian, Spanish, German
Box office $4.7 million[1]

Stealing Beauty (French: Beauté volée; Italian: Io ballo da sola) is a 1996 British-Italian-American drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Liv Tyler, Joseph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons, Sinéad Cusack, and Rachel Weisz. Written by Bertolucci and Susan Minot, the film is about an American teenaged girl who travels to a lush Tuscan villa near Siena to stay with family friends of her poet mother, who recently committed suicide.[2] The film was actress Liv Tyler's first leading film role. Stealing Beauty premiered in Italy in March 1996, and was officially selected for the 1996 Cannes Film Festival in France in May.[3] It was released in the United States on June 14, 1996.


Lucy Harmon, a 19-year-old American teenager, arrives in the lush Tuscan countryside to be sculpted by a family friend who lives in a beautiful villa there. Lucy visited there four years earlier and exchanged a kiss with an Italian boy with whom she hopes to become reacquainted. Lucy's mother, who lived in the villa, had committed suicide recently and Lucy wants to explore her mother's past. Lucy also hopes to discover the identity of her father, whom her mother hinted was a resident of the villa. Once there, Lucy meets and befriends a variety of eccentric locals who were companions of her mother, and begins to form relationships and connections with each of them, especially with Alex Parrish, an English writer who is dying from terminal cancer.

Lucy yearns to lose her virginity and becomes an object of intense interest to the men of the household, but the suitor she finally selects is not the initial object of her affection. After Alex is taken away to a local hospital - presumably going there to die - Lucy finally loses her virginity in the farm fields outside the villa.



  1. "2 Wicky" (Burt Bacharach) by Hooverphonic
  2. "Glory Box" by Portishead
  3. "If 6 Was 9" (Jimi Hendrix) by Axiom Funk
  4. "Annie Mae" by John Lee Hooker
  5. "Rocket Boy" by Liz Phair
  6. "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
  7. "My Baby Just Cares For Me" (Walter Donaldson) by Nina Simone
  8. "I'll Be Seeing You" (Sammy Fain) by Billie Holiday
  9. "Rhymes Of An Hour" (Hope Sandoval) by Mazzy Star
  10. "Alice" by Cocteau Twins
  11. "You Won't Fall" by Lori Carson
  12. "I Need Love" by Sam Phillips
  13. "Say It Ain't So" by Roland Gift
  14. "Horn concerto in D K412, 2nd movement" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  15. "Clarinet concerto in A K622, 2nd movement" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Additional songs
  • "Rock Star" by Hole was also used in the film. Tyler is shown dancing and singing wildly along to the track, listening with her headphones and walkman.
  • Björk's song "Bachelorette" of her 1997 album Homogenic was originally written to be part of the soundtrack and its first working title was "Bertolucci". Björk later faxed Bertolucci to inform him the song would be used on her upcoming album instead.


The critical reception for the film was mixed, with some critics praising the Italian setting and the slow pace, while others criticised it for its apparent self-indulgence, and lack of character development and drama.

According to Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who gave it 2/4 stars, "The movie plays like the kind of line a rich older guy would lay on a teenage model, suppressing his own intelligence and irony in order to spread out before her the wonderful world he would like to give her as a gift....The problem here is that many 19-year-old women, especially the beautiful international model types, would rather stain their teeth with cigarettes and go to discos with cretins on motorcycles than have all Tuscany as their sandbox."[5]

Critics such as Desson Thomson of the Washington Post,[6] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle,[7] and James Berardinelli of ReelViews[8] gave negative reviews, with Berardinelli in particular, calling the movie 'an atmosphere study, lacking characters',[8] and Thompson calling it 'inscrutable'.[6]

Others, such as Jonathan Rosenbaum of Chicago Reader,[9] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone,[10] Janet Maslin of The New York Times,[11] and Jack Mathews of the Los Angeles Times[12] were more positive, with Rosenbaum in particular praising the movie's 'mellowness' and 'charm'.

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 53% based on 47 reviews.[13]

Despite the mixed reception to the film, Liv Tyler's performance was met with critical acclaim, making the movie her breakthrough role.


  1. ^ "Stealing Beauty (1996)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved July 2, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Stealing Beauty". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Stealing Beauty". Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  4. ^ "Full cast and crew for Stealing Beauty". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 28, 1996). "Stealing Beauty". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  6. ^ a b 'Bertolucci's Shallow Beauty', Washington Post, June 28, 1996. retrieved on July 2, 2009.
  7. ^ LaSalle, Mick (November 8, 1996). "FILM REVIEW – `Beauty' – It Has Nice Scenery Liv Tyler miscast in Bertolucci's film". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  8. ^ a b Berardinelli, James (1996). "ReelViews". Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  9. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1996). "Stealing Beauty". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  10. ^ Travers, Peter (June 14, 1996). "Stealing Beauty Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  11. ^ Maslin, Janet (June 14, 1996). "Stealing Beauty". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  12. ^ Mathews, Jack (June 21, 1996). "Stealing Beauty- Bertolucci's 'Beauty' Searches for Identity, '60s Idealism". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 28, 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  13. ^ "Stealing Beauty". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 

External links[edit]