The Girl by the Lake (La Ragazza del Lago): Review of Film Version of Karin Fossum's Don't Look Back

by DerdriuMarriner

The Girl by the Lake is the English title for the Italian film La Ragazza del Lago, which in turn is the film version of Karin Fossum's Don't Look Back.

Crime dramas written for Norway accept Italian settings:

Readers worldwide appreciate Karin Fossum (born November 6, 1954) as one of Norway's leading writers. Karin blazes literary trails in poetry and prose. She claims such prestigious honors as Tarjei Vesaas's debutantpris for her first poetry collection, Kanskje i morgen (Maybe Tomorrow) of 1974, and the Glass Key award and Riverton Prize for her second crime novel, Se deg ikke tilbake! (Don't Look Back) of 1996.

The worldwide popularity of fictitious Oslo-based police inspector Jakob Skarre's crime-solving adventures demands making Karin's novels available in 12+ languages. Filmed formats emerge as lucrative supplements to the ongoing series. La Ragazza del Lago -- The Girl by the Lake with English subtitles -- of 2007 finds worldwide respect and revenues.


La Ragazza del Lago (The Girl by the Lake) is an award-winning Italian film based on an award-winning novel by Karin Mathisen Fossum, Norway's best-selling author of crime dramas.

Bloody Scotland, International Crime Writing Festival, Stirling, central Scotland, September 15, 2012
Bloody Scotland, International Crime Writing Festival, Stirling, central Scotland, September 15, 2012

A rabbit lover does not kidnap or kill


Lucia (Marzia Postagna) allows sleepovers when her niece's mother works nights. Paola (Maria Sole Mansutti) becomes worried when Marta (Nicole Perrone) no-shows the next day. Inspector Lorenzo Siboldi (Fausto Maria Sciarappa) calls Commissioner Giovanni Sanzio (Toni Servillo). He discovers Marta delayed by Mario (Franco Ravera), a mentally challenged local bemoaning an ailing rabbit named Hercules and a dead nude by the serpent's lake, Laghi di Fusine, near Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Mario expects that Anna Nadal (Alessia Piovan) will catch cold. Giovanni finds Anna under Mario's blue jacket. He goes to interview:

  • Boyfriend and truant factory worker Roberto Biasutti (Denis Fasolo);
  • Half-sister -- by a different father -- Silvia Nadal (Heidi Caldart);
  • Widowed father Davide Nadal (Marco Baliani).


La Ragazzo del Lago unfolds amidst the stunning scenery of Laghi di Fusine (Fusine Lakes), which comprises two lakes, Lago Superiore ed il Lago Inferiore, considered as exemplary alpine lakes.

northeastern Friuli–Venezia Giulia region, northeastern Italy
northeastern Friuli–Venezia Giulia region, northeastern Italy

Anna gets loved by everybody, even her killer


Giovanni hears out the people last known to see Anna alive, near a café before her hillside morning jobs:

  • her hockey coach (Enrico Cavallero) until 8 months ago; and
  • her previous employer, Corrado Canali (Fabrizio Gifuni).

He nevertheless insists upon arresting Roberto for caching Anna's backpack behind backyard trees and erasing CD-roms in his bedroom. He judges her fast-acting brain tumor as inspiring Roberto's drowning a non-struggling Anna in seven or eight minutes. And yet other situations look equally suspicious:

  • Chiara Canali's (Valeria Golino) envying her son's preferring Anna's babysitting;
  • Davide's photographing Anna sunbathing;
  • Mario's wheelchair-bound father (Omero Antonutti) resenting Anna's long, slender legs.

Silvia mentions Anna's removing a bronze angel from three-year-old Angelo Canali's tombstone.


The Girl by the Lake ~ Available in DVD format via Amazon

When a beautiful young girl is found murdered in an idyllic Northern Italy village, Inspector Giovanni Sanzio (Servillo) is called in from the capital to investigate. But in a small town where nobody is what they seem, anyone could be capable of homicide
Italian films

Nobody judges and nobody tells in small towns


Police ultimately need to release Roberto. Corrado opts to confess to killing Anna. He prefers not to discuss Anna's blaming and threatening him for Angelo choking during breakfast.

Giovanni eagerly quits small town mysteries for big city drama. He relishes time with daughter Francesca (Giulia Michelini), a truant high school student whose D in history looks worse than F in Latin. He savors moments with his institutionalized wife (Anna Bonaiuto), who considers him her University-teaching brother from abroad and co-inmate Carlo (Giuliano Zannier) true love.

It takes little effort to follow Italian dialogues. Ninety-six minutes unite first-rate performers with:

  • Cinematographer Ramiro Civita;
  • Director Andrea Molaioli;
  • Editor Giogiò Franchini;
  • Musician Teho Teardo;
  • Producer Nicola Giuliano;
  • Screenwriter Sandro Petraglia. Exclusive: The Girl By the Lake Trailer

Uploaded to YouTube by MCP on Jul 15, 2009 ~ URL:



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Italian actress and model Alessia Piovan (born May 20, 1985) plays Anna Nadal, whose mysterious death is clarified through flashbacks.

66th Venice International Film Festival, September 8, 2009
66th Venice International Film Festival, September 8, 2009
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Mangart Mountain Reflected in Lake at Lago Di Fusine, Julian Alps, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy: photo by Edwardes Guy ~ photographic print available now via AllPosters

Mangart Mountain Reflected in Lake at Lago Di Fusine, Julian Alps, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 06/15/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 06/16/2015

Mira, there actually is a fine Norwegian version as part of one of Norway's television mini-series offerings. It just lacks the following and reaction which the Italian version understandably inspires. It's sort of on the order of the Wallander series, whereby the Swedish programming isn't as accessible or well-known as that starring Kenneth Branagh.

Mira on 06/15/2015

There's something about Norwegian writers and thrillers. I'm surprised this hasn't become a Norwegian film. :) But I see the movie has won many awards, so the Italian director and actors must have done something right :)

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