Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 9th, 2011
Monica Guerritore is an unnamed wealthy socialite (all of the characters in the film are unnamed) who catches her husband in flagrante with another woman. To add insult to injury this woman is a TV personality of a sort unknown in North America, but common in France and Italy – an attractive woman whose only job is to let you know what’s coming up next – and, rightly or wrongly, can represent, as is the case here, a certain form of empty glamour.
At any rate, Guerritore, sexually humiliated, heads off on the road with no particular destination in mind. She encounters exuberant cartoonist Gabriele Lavia (also the director of the film, but best known on these shores for his roles in Beyond the Door and Dario Argento’s Deep Red and Inferno). The two begin an affair that rapidly spirals out of control, crossing all the boundaries of passion (that’s the idea anyway) and veering rapidly towards self-destruction. All in about twelve hours!
We are in Last Tango in Paris territory here, but Lavia is no Brando, and neither is he Bertolucci. There are interesting touches to the story, most notably a strange cartoon interlude where Lavia gives us an anthropomorphic penis being victimized by female sexual monster who is, in fact, the title character. But if the doomed lovers narrative is going to work, we need to know a thing or two about these people, but these are two cyphers, little more than marionettes whose strings are being yanked by the script. The sex scenes aren’t particularly erotic (though the case could be made that they aren’t supposed to be), and there is a rather tangible terror of female sexuality pervading the entire exercise. Props to Lavia for ambition, and some of the weirdness keeps things watchable, but that’s about as far as it goes.
The film is from 1986, and the looks every bit that vintage – that is to say, the print is in good shape, but there is some aging visible. This comes mainly in the form of variable grain (there’s an exterior motorway scene that’s a bit rough in this department) and speckling that pops up throughout the film. Some of the blacks are closer to murky than deep, but the colours and contrasts are generally good, as are the flesh tones. The image is sharp, and this is, it must be said, a film with some rather pictorially handsome moments, especially in the first few minutes. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Two options here: English or Italian. Now, I may be wrong, but since I would swear I hear Lavia’s English voice sounding the same in every movie I’ve seen him in, I’m guessing he does his own dubbing, in which case his English is impeccable. But having said that, the dubbing is still very artificial, and the problem is that there are no subtitles for the more natural-sounding Italian track (the only subs turn up during those moments where no English track exists). The dialogue sounds a bit harsh, and the score varies from acceptable to very thin (the opening credits are surprisingly anemic in this regard). The tracks are supposed to be Dolby 2.0, but they might as well be mono. There is no surround elements at all.
A bit of a mixed bag for Eurosleaze fans. It’s isn’t as luxurious as a Tinto Brass film, but nor is it as pleased with itself. It’s more handsomely produced than most Joe D’Amato movies, but it isn’t as interesting as the best of his. Worth a look for the very curious, but no more.