Besieged (1999)


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Movie Info

Set in the contrasting climates of a politically-charged Africa and the tranquil confines of an enchanting Roman villa, Besieged is a smoldering love story that bridges the gap between two very different worlds. Thandie Newton stars as the luminous Shandurai, a young African woman who has left her homeland, after having witnessed her husband's brutal abduction at the hands of an oppressive government. Disenchanted with her country, Shandurai surfaces in Rome at the home of an eccentric English musician, Mr. Kinsky (David Thewlis). Shandurai works as a maid for Mr. Kinsky in exchange for room and board while she studies medicine at the local university. The two have almost nothing in common, yet she hopelessly enchants him. The depth of his devotion will challenge the delicate balance between desire and sacrifice, sentimentalism and need, as old and new worlds meet and meld in this daring and inventive story.


Thandie Newton
as Shandurai
David Thewlis
as Jason Kinsky
Cyril Nri
as Priest
Paul Osul
as Piano Buyer
Veronica Lazar
as Piano Buyer
Andrea Quercia
as Child Pianist
Alexander Menis
as Child at Concert
Natalia Mignosa
as Child at Concert
Lorenzo Mollica
as Child at Concert
Elena Perino
as Child at Concert
Fernando Trombetti
as Child at Concert
Veronica Visentin
as Child at Concert
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News & Interviews for Besieged

Critic Reviews for Besieged

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (14)

Bertolucci and co-writer Clare Peploe seem intent on deconstructing the story's interesting elements at every turn, substituting woolliness for clarity, atmospherics for real emotion and an often condescending, armchair-liberal naivete for real political

Dec 7, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It's a film about the limits of art, about civilization at this moment of flux, and about a gentle connection between a man and a woman.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

This is a deeply engrossing, often exquisite film by someone who knows visuals. It's sensory, sensual, handmade.

Jul 21, 2005

What an unexpected gift.

Mar 19, 2002 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Given Bertolucci's impish leanings, the self-referential sequences may merely be gags. If so, they're among a half-dozen others that backfire.

Dec 19, 2001 | Full Review…

A film that combines a stunning sensuality with a rigorous economy.

Feb 14, 2001 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Besieged


Besieged was an useless combination of political and romantic drama, wandering back and forth between the two leads that never really had reached each other. The movie had an interesting beginning with the imprisonment of Shandurai's husband, but the story gradually fell apart after that. There was no emotional force driving the events in the movie and there was never any satisfying realization of Shandurai's sadness. It was fine performance by Thandie Newton in the lead, but Bertolucci's lack to balance out the two halves of the story, stopped the characters from reaching their full potential, and so we could not seen a fascinating drama. Too bad.

Daisy  Maduro
Daisy Maduro

Super Reviewer

A graceful, visually exquisite piece that (on a second watch) works for me despite its flaws. The languid nature of the narrative is obviously a detractor as far as audience connection goes, but it works to establish an enigmatic presence for both of the main characters. The story has a poetic sensibility that allows us to discard some of our expectations as to what the movie is going to deliver. David Thewlis is brilliant, as always, and Thandie Newton is very strong too. That's saying a lot, since the actors have very little dialogue to establish their performances with. Watch it once, think about it, and then watch it again.

Mike T.
Mike T.

Super Reviewer


Found the pacing to be a bit too languid.

Steve K
Steve K

Super Reviewer

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