A Bold, No-Holds-Barred Look at Sophia Loren’s Family Entanglements

Barbara Noe Kennedy

 

Sophia Loren possesses the real-life rags-to-riches storyline that the movie world loves. She was born in poverty in 1934 in the village of Pozzuoli near Naples, Italy, and rose to the pinnacle of Hollywood stardom, thanks to her beauty, her acting ability… and her mother.

 

My House Is Full of Mirrors (La Mia Casa è Piena di Specchi) is a two-part miniseries that takes a peek behind the true life story of this iconic actress, and it isn’t all pretty.

 

 

Her mother, Romilda Villani—whom 75-year-old Sophia portrays in this biopic in a spectacular twist—won a chance for stardom in Hollywood that her parents forced her to turn down. So when she gives birth to Sophia out of wedlock, she uses her grit and tenacity to ensure Sophia’s success.

 

What’s lesser known is that Sophia’s younger sister, Maria Scicolone, also had beauty and talent. She sang with Frank Sinatra, who asked her to audition for one of his albums with the promise of a sparkling career. In stepped the green-eyed monster of a mother who, evolving into a state of jealousy over Sophia’s success that should have been hers, forced her to turn down the opportunity.

 

My House is Full of Mirrors, based on Maria’s 2004 autobiography, was first aired on RAI Italian TV in March 2010, and, as of July 20, 2021, is available with English subtitles on MHZ Choice, a streaming service for foreign and international content.

 

 

Part One follows Sophia’s rise to fame, with Part Two focusing on Maria’s disentanglement from her ever narcissistic, domineering mother’s grip while Sophia is away making films. The total air time is 3.5 hours.

 

The acting is polished (Sophia did win two Academy Awards, after all), though at times the scenes are stilted in their lighting, making its production seemingly more vintage than 2010. Nevertheless, this is a family saga with all the trimmings—fame, fortune, jealousy, unrequited love, coming-of-age—the best kind of binge-watching around.

 

Author Bio:

Barbara Noe Kennedy worked as an editor at the National Geographic Book Division for more than 20 years. She has written four books, and her writings have also been published in National Geographic, The Daily Telegraph, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine. 

 

For Highbrow Magazine

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