A swooping shot through the roman skyline and more of the “music” or more accurately the creepy, symphonic screaming which we heard in London. We know this is Rome because we can see the Coliseum and about half a dozen pizza shops (I kid, about the pizza shops I mean), also because Craig outright said in the previous scene he was heading to that specific city, but most of all because Mendes felt the need to write “ROME” at the bottom of the screen. I don’t seem to remember Bond films labeling the locations as often as they have during the Craig era, I understand, if they were to go off, to say, Tuscaloosa Alabama without any context, such as saying “I’m off to Tuscaloosa!” but Rome? It’s a major international city, not to mention as I stated, HE JUST SAID HE WAS GOING THERE!
Craig makes note of the “optional extras” Q added to the car, 4 of the cheapest, most poorly bodged together switches, marked “Air”, “Atmosphere”, “Backfire”, and “Exhaust” with that puffy labeling tape from the 70’s.
Just look at this travesty! Note the longer labels are hanging off the side!
They could have duct taped the climate control panel from a 1988 Yugo to the dashboard and it would have looked more professional! You used to see the “money on the screen” in Bond films, now I don’t think they try anymore. Couldn’t they have scrimped with the makeup on some of the Mexico extras, standing way in the back so they’d have more than 50 cents to spend on vehicle effects? They spent a record $350 million on this picture, at least half of that must have gone to Sammy “The Scarf” Mendes because it sure wasn’t spent on the little things like effects, script, or story.
Craig reaches the funeral of Mr. Sciarra and watches from afar, dressed in black coat and dark glasses, very much like the mobsters in attendance, shot with more pretentious exposition (I’m starting to detect a theme here). He eyes the widow Sciarra (Monica Bellucci in her much ballyhooed role) out in front of the procession and hones in. Craig walks closer to the action past columns and sarcophagi, showing they put far more effort and thought in to pretension than the story or script! Ten feet from Craig is a figure with an eggplant shaped head that looks eerily similar to Christoph Waltz. Craig seems to recognize him as he spends an awkward amount of time leering at him. Waltz must have felt Craig’s gaze boring a hole in to the back of his head as he soon departs, along with the rest of the congregation who disappear faster than Brosnan’s Vanquish in Die Another Day.
Of course we know Waltz is Blofeld, so this scene begs the question: what the hell is he doing there? Why is the reclusive head of a secret criminal organization attending the funeral of an underling? I don’t care if this guy was second in command, Blofeld would not expose himself for such a trivial matter as burying a henchman, especially when you consider his contempt for human life.
I must also ask, here is a man Craig recognizes, as we find out later his long believed dead foster brother, a man who shouldn’t be there, so why not follow him? His instructions were simply “kill this man and attend the funeral” so why, when something so obviously abnormal happens, such as the appearance of a “dead” man, doesn’t Craig react accordingly? Couldn’t that be why Mamma M sent you there? “Nope, she must have meant for me to go hound this widow!” Look, if the Doppelganger turns out to be a dead end you can always go hound her later.
Craig approaches the widow in a cinematic juxtaposition similar to this scene in Miami Vice, compare and contrast:
Rather than do the obvious, tail the suspicious character he seemed to recognize, Craig makes contact with the widow and attempts to sell her life insurance. Craig looks like a waxen Muppet in this scene, more so than normal. His jowls hanging like a hound dog, skin sliding off his cheeks in to a pool of flesh. Bellucci asks “Can’t you see I’m grieving?” and Craig relies “No.” Oh, you see, she didn’t love her husband after all, so now he can believably bed her! She storms off. I would too, after looking at that mug.
The widow Bellucci arrives home, pops some opera on the Gramophone, pours herself a cognac and makes her way to the terrace. Due to her aversion to using electricity, or perhaps EON’s insistence that all indoor shots take place in pitch black to cut the budget, she refuses to turn on a lamp. This allows two hit men to follow her unseen to the patio. As she’s staring wistfully out over the fountain she becomes aware of their presence before hearing two pops from a silenced pistol. The widow turns to find a spectre in her yard, so that’s where the title comes from! Oh no sorry that’s Craig, the ghostly white ghoulish face threw me off for a moment!
Upon retiring to the parlor they share some stilted dialogue about her being a hunted woman now that her husband is dead. Which like everything else in this film is confusing. She could be trusted when her husband was alive? Now that he’s dead, and all his secrets with him, she can’t? She wasn’t a liability, and now she is? Why? Of course I forgot the first rule of the film Spectre: “Because we said so!” that will pop up time and again before we’re done.
Here’s where it gets a bit shall we say “rapey”. Bellucci slaps Craig, he throws the two champagne glasses he was holding to the ground, then walks her back to and presses her up against a mirror. Craig begins to kiss her like a drowning mackerel and questions her on her former husband’s organization, between deep breaths she answers, and at one point she even literally sheds a tear, which really makes this feel awkward. She tells him the group is meeting that very evening to choose a replacement for her husband, as Craig removes her clothes. Now setting the rape aside I must ask this question (I know so many questions, it’s like I’m wearing my critical thinking cap or something), how does she know about this meeting? She knows where, she knows when, she even knows what’s on the agenda! Yet as far as the film has established she’s not an operative of theirs, she holds no rank in the organization, her husband isn’t around to tell her, she’s just a glorified housewife who Spectre feels is a loose end, so how the bloody hell does she know all this?
She begins to warm to Craig’s not so gentle touch as they fade to black and resume the action in the bedroom where Craig is jotting down a note. Craig tells her, he’s contacted an American friend named “Felix”, (Get it! You know who it is!) who will get her to safety once she contacts the U.S. embassy. Now let me back up here. Last we hear in Quantum of Solace, Felix was made head of the CIA’s South American operations, so for her to get to him she has to jump through a lot of hoops. I point that out because we know Felix is an undisputed “good guy” and so he would definitely help her, but as pointed out in QOS: 1.) Spy agencies particularly the CIA are not to be trusted, as they will “get in to bed with anyone” and sell out their friends, as Felix’s boss did to Craig, and 2.) The Quantum/Spectre organization has people everywhere including Mamma M’s very own personal body guard, not to mention the new head of the joint intelligence service (C), with an army of surveillance cameras and pipelines to all the world’s intelligence services! So how long would this gal really last. Not to mention once it’s been realized Luigi and Vito have not returned from their task for the obligatory post assassination round of high fives back at the clubhouse, others will be along to finish the job.
As Craig leaves he wishes her good luck (as I pointed out she’ll need it) and we see her on the bed dressed in a fancy corset and stockings which were definitely not there when Craig undressed her. So she either dresses extremely provocatively post sex (at that point why?), or the continuity team were napping on the job, it won’t be the last time we see a lingerie magic trick in this film.
So Monica Bellucci’s big role in this film was the “disposable conquest” included to shove the plot along kicking and screaming in her 3 minutes of screen time, and to add another notch to the bed post. Usually this girl meets a not so pleasant fate; see Agent Fields (QOS) and Paris Carver (TND) to name a few. I guess Monica was special because she got a “happy ending”. So much was made of her and her age, the “Bond woman” as she was called, but there have been mature women in the series before, for example, Honor Blackman, Ms. Pussy Galore was 38 at the time of Goldfinger. Four years Connery’s senior! But all that aside, why the hell does EON deserve a medal for putting a gorgeous woman in to a beautiful gown and forcing her to “kiss” a pale, wounded trout. What, just because she’s a little on the older side? So what! Shouldn’t we as a society be beyond that now?