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A strange visitor in a wealthy family. He seduces the maid, the son, the mother, the daughter and finally the father before leaving a few days after. After he's gone, none of them can continue living as they did. Who was that visitor ? Could he be God ? Written by
Unmasking the unbearable emptiness of bourgeois life...
...or so this film would have you think. Is capitalism really a dreamworld, our rôles and possessions merely shabby window dressing? What happened when it is all swept away?
Like the inhabitants of Plato's cave, a well-to-do Italian family is shown that the lives they lead are inauthentic and shallow. But where to turn when you find out that the life you led has been a fraud? Religion? Sex? Art?
All compelling questions, even moreso now, thirty plus years on from when this film was made. Capitalism has managed to adapt to every criticism and become more subtle, its spectacles enveloping us in a cradle to grave ocean of images and brands, all of which can give meaning and backfill those empty spaces, and all at a reasonable price. Thus, it is compelling to consider what might happen to someone who has this value-giving process shattered.
Alas, compelling philosophical questions do not a good film make. Besides its mighty technical limitations (including bad camera work, terrible editing and lousy blocking) Teorema doesn't deliver.
The characters are (with the exception of Stamp) absences rather than presences. That their lives are torn apart doesn't really matter to us because these people never meant anything to us anyways. Perhaps the aim was to present them as everyfolk, to say, "this could be you", but from such generalities there is little for us to hang our emotions on.
Stamp is the catalyst for all of these changes, and although we have as little impression of his character, his stare and his seductive energy set him apart. Alone amongst the characters (until he awakens them) he acts upon the world. He is the best thing about this often dull movie, transforming the family members in a manner that is sexy yet not explicit (one of the few things the movie pulls off).
Grainy colour. Italian w/ English subtitles. Rating: 3 out of 10. (flawed)
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