23 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Experiment almost comes off
lor_ from New York, New York
5 January 2011
Even before watching L'ASSOLUTO NATURALE (HE AND SHE), you know it's an
experimental film since none of the characters have any names assigned.
An extremely offbeat movie for Italian maestro Mauro Bolognini, it
rests firmly and I daresay permanently in obscurity, but is worth
watching if you are interested in experimental cinema.
This does not fit into any convenient genre, hence has no modern-day
audience (see: gialli, horror, sex, gore, police action, or Spaghetti
westerns for current Italian fandom). What we have is a mysterious
romance involving an uninhibited woman and a dour photographer, shot in
strange interiors and abstract sports-car-on-the-highway to nowhere
exteriors from Antonioni land.
I bought the classic Morricone soundtrack LP nearly 40 years ago,
played it endlessly and finally got to see the movie just recently.
Among its pleasures is the spotlighting of Sylva Koscina (even
delivering full frontal nudity), an unappreciated icon of Italian
cinema who has appeared in dozens of classics dating all the way back
to Pietro Germi's THE RAILROAD MAN. What a thrill to see her dominating
a movie, the way the Lorens, Lollobrigidas, Manganos, Magnanis,
Gastonis and later the Antonellis, Sandrellis, Grandis and Belluccis
were permitted to on a regular basis. Hiding behind oversize dark
glasses (and often little else), she is a terrific presence here.
Not so is producer/star Laurence Harvey. I'm a Harvey fan, especially
of his early '50s Lewis Gilbert films, his breakthrough at the end of
that decade in EXPRESSO BONGO (probably his finest work), and of course
his crazy cannibal finale WELCOME TO ARROW BEACH. But he miscast
himself here -all wrong for the part. As the guy pursuing Koscina, he
should have cast one of the many James Dean imitators of the era
(Zalman King, Michael Parks, Jordan Christopher, Christopher Jones),
any of whom would have been perfect, looking sexy & brooding. Instead,
Harvey at age 40 looks decades older, and is thoroughly unromantic with
his sunken cheeks and scruffy facial hair.
Though most of the film is relatively abstract, their are
horrific/surreal elements, including a rape that may or may not have
happened, an odd sequence guest starring Isa Miranda (supporting cast
has little to do in this basically two-hander format) with Harvey
confronted by old people, and even a cryptic discussion of Baron
Munchhausen. Coincidentally, it's the kind of film that would not be
out of place programmed alongside a Terry Gilliam opus.
The Morricone score hypnotically knits it all together -you can't go
wrong hunting down to see at last one of the rare films of his
(GIORDANO BRUNO, MADDALENA, OCEANA) known only by its music.
For Bolognini fans, this is not a fabulous costume drama nor one of his
brilliant '50s neo-Realist Pasolini adaptations, but is worth
completing. I also recommend his much-maligned late softcore
masterpiece LA VENEXIANA -if you can see that beauty in 35MM.
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