Things abruptly change -- as we jump to the future, it turns out -- when we follow the aforementioned young and sweaty blond woman to a later point in her life. It's difficult to explain what happens in An Unknown Woman without giving away too much, but in a nutshell we follow the Ukranian Irena (a brilliant and brave Kseniya Rappoport) to Italy. She looks like hell but she's flush with cash. And for some reason she's obsessed with a well-off family who has a young daughter. Irena begins to insinuate into the family's life -- moving in across the street, getting a job as a maid in their building, and -- as things take an even more disturbing turn -- she knocks the family's housekeeper down the stairs, paralyzing her. Irena applies for the now-vacant job, and now she's in their home.
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