The script is bad enough to make one pity the actresses saddled with role-playing this dog, seven women who might have found themselves envying the chap cast to play the unspeaking corpse. Not that their emotionally-dead, enervated performances are wholly free from blame.
The direction? Let’s just say “7 Women and a Murder” is so lackluster, so utterly lacking in urgency, whimsy or whatever the hell it was director and co-writer Alessandro Genovesi was going for that one can’t help but notice when he tries something cute.
But even a flashy 360 degree pan between two of the rival women in this tale of one dead husband/ lover/father/employer/son-in-law and his seven possible killers merely calls attention to how tedious everything surrounding it is.
What a waste.
Titled “7 donne e un mistero” in Italy, this winter-in-the-early-1930s yarn is set in a plush country mansion, which daughter Susanna (Diana Del Bufalo) returns to from Milan, where she’s been living and studying.
Mama Margherita (Margherita Buy) isn’t overly thrilled to see her. Granny Rachele (Ornella Vanoni) seems more interested in adding Susana back to her list of family members who consider her a “burden to everyone.”
Bitter unmarried Aunt Agostina (Sabrina Impacciatore) is eager to share her “ignored” unhappiness to the returning niece.
“Look Agostina, I’m paying attention to you this ONE time, and then I’m done,” her imperious sister Margherita fumes, in Italian with subtitles, or dubbed into English.
At least Susanna’s younger sister, Caterina (Benedetta Porcaroli) seems to bear up under all this friction and unhappiness well.
We’ve barely learned that patriarch Marcello has taken to sleeping in a guest bedroom when the new housekeeper, Maria (Luisa Ranieri) discovers him face-down in his bed with a knife in his back.
Margherita bemoans how unhappy he must have been to do this to himself, but Susanna cracks that “I don’t think he acted alone,” knife in the back and all.
The phone lines have been cut, the “car’s wires” as well. There’s nothing for it but to discern if there’s a stranger in the house who killed Marcello, or if one of the six woman there — one of whom just arrived and would seem to have an airtight alibi, another of whom is aged and in a wheelchair — did it.
But wait! The title mentions “SEVEN.” Let’s see how long it takes for the mistress, Veronica (Micaela Ramazzotti) to show up.
“7 Women” sets up as a farce, and taking place in a mansion, we might rightly expect it to be a door-slamming one. Don’t let the fact that it’s an all female cast chase sexual dalliances, jealousies and intrigues out of your mind.
But nothing remotely interesting happens. A character gets a makeover, another is robbed, there’s a pregnancy and a pistol. And none of it is fashioned into a “mystery” we want to solve, funny characters we want to spend time with or whose safety we fear for or catfights we’d pay cash money to see.
Nothing these “7 Woman” and the folks behind the camera conjure up amounts to a hill of fagioli.
Rating: TV-MA, violence, some profanity
Cast: Margherita Buy, Diana Del Bufalo, Sabrina Impacciatore, Benedetta Porcaroli, Micaela Ramazzotti, Luisa Ranieri and Ornella Vanoni.
Credits: Directed by Alessandro Genovesi, scripted by Lisa Nur Sultan and Alessandro Genovesi. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:24