Meanwhile the actors make much of the nebulous characters they're given to play. (The screenplay, by Bertolucci and his long-time collaborator Clare Peploe, is based on a story by James Lasdun.) Kinsky is something of a cipher, but Thewlis nonetheless gives a muscular, defined performance. And despite the fact that Newton looks like a grown-up cherub, she manages to infuse Shandurai with the complexity of a mature woman. Shandurai's med-school friend Agostino, played by the appealing Claudio Santamaria, shows up as the third (and minor) character.

Besieged features little dialogue. That's fine, because Bertolucci -- not always an economical storyteller -- knows that in this case the less his characters talk the more they have to say. (Sunday, February 28, 7:00 p.m.)

-- Robin Dougherty

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