In late-nineteenth century Italy, Tullio (Giancarlo Giannini), an insatiable aristocrat, grows bored with his timid wife Giuliana (Laura Antonelli) and neglects her for his more exciting mistress, the wealthy widow Countess Teresa Raffo (Jennifer O’Neill). After learning that Giuliana is having a torrid affair of her own, he becomes tormented by her infidelity and descends into madness.
“[L’innocente is] among the most beautiful and severely disciplined films [Visconti] has ever made. “The Innocent” is also one of Visconti’s most terse, most dramatically economical films. There’s not a superfluous frame in it. Further, it is splendidly performed by Mr. Giannini… and by Miss Antonelli, whose childlike face and voluptuous body combine to form a kind of ideograph that tells us what the film is all about. “The Innocent,”… is a fitting coda to the Visconti career. It’s a film of effortless command in which the director’s presence is everywhere felt — and nowhere intrudes.” – Vincent Canby, The New York TImes