|Index||3 reviews in total|
An almost absurdly stylish piece of arty erotica, this Giuseppe Patroni
Griffi film shows us glamorous people indulging in kinky sexual games,
wearing hip 60s clothes and lounging about in chic Italian villas. What more
could one ask out of life? As if to assure us, the callow public, that such
wanton goings-on can lead only to a bad end, the script has one character
intone solemnly into the camera: "I am obscenely and disgustingly happy. I
am deformed and destroyed by my happiness." There are worse problems to be
The plot centres on a famous writer (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who fantasises an affair between his wife (Florinda Bolkan) and his best friend, a bisexual actor (Tony Musante). Unbeknown to him, the pair have in fact been lovers for years. Not only that, they have drawn a third player into their bedroom games - an anarchist/poet/actor/gigolo (Lino Capolicchio) who squats in a dankly luxurious basement and makes love to Bolkan under a Nazi swastika flag.
Their menage a trois scene - mild enough by today's standards - made the film a scandalous success on its release. In fact, Patroni Griffi gets more erotic mileage from a shot of three clasped hands than Zalman King could get from a sea of naked, thrashing bodies. While his wife is thus engaged, Trintignant drifts into an affair with a rich but lonely single woman (Annie Girardot).
It's Trintignant and Girardot (unsurprisingly) who walk away with the acting honours. Musante and Capolicchio flare their nostrils and bat their eyes to signal their sexual ambiguity. The lovely Bolkan may not be able to act, but with those tiger eyes and Modigliani cheekbones, she hardly needs to. Her wardrobe alone - including a silver chain mail gown with matching helmet - makes it worth sitting through the occasional longueurs. And it's all offset to perfection by Ennio Morricone's coolly sensual jazz score.
I watched this film recently, and it strongly fascinated me. I think it testifies a typical mood of 60's, with sexual freedom, new forms of attraction, and mockeries about middle-class' values. Here the author attacks the institution of marriage, and the conception of couple, playing with the characters as with the pieces of chess. Five main characters look for a balance of their sexual life, but the only solution seems to be the triangle, a new form of social institution, regular as the couple and the marriage. The film shows a very old style, no more valuable, with primary colours, heavy make-ups and some aged machine movements. And the characters are unbelievable, speaking by some literary style and far from any likelihood, but the subtended theory is interesting, sarchastic, acid, painful, and finally delivering and anti-hypocritical. And the cast is great, particularly Trintignant, Girardot and Musante. And what a marvellous score!!! Viva Ennio Morricone!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Listerning to UK film reviewers Alan Jones and Kim Newman's excellent commentary on the Blue Underground DVD edition of director Dario Argento's debut title The Bird with the Crystal Plumage,I was surprised to find out,that before working on Plumage,Argento (in a co-writing role),lead actor Tony Musante and composer Ennio Morricone had worked together on a 1969 movie called The Love Circle.
Being interested in seeing their earlier collaboration,I decided to search everywhere online for a DVD/Video version of the title.With the happy exception of discovering that parts of Morricone's music had come out on an "ultimate collection" CD set,I was disappointed to find that the only version of the movie available was an old Italian Video,that did not feature an English soundtrack or any English subtitles.
As I begun to gather up titles that I have saved for a "special occasion" to mark my upcoming 500th IMDb review,I decided to make one last attempt in tracking down an English edition of the title.Originally expecting to turn up with nothing,I was delightfully caught by surprise,when a DVD seller told me that they had recently tracked down a version of the movie with English subtitles,which led to me excitingly getting ready to see the circle finally become completed.
Leaving a photo shoot behind as his wife Nina soaks up all the glory,Michele begins to talk to a close friend of his called Max,about a play that he is currently writing which involves his wife sleeping with Max,whilst he is away at work.Caught a little bit by surprise,Max advises Michele to think about his idea for a good while,before telling Nina about the play that he's currently writing.
Fearing that Michele may know about the affair that they have been having for years,Max and Nina find themselves struggling to decide on when the best time will be to tell Michele about the affair.Sitting together for dinner,Michele surprises Nina and Max by inviting a new guest called Giovanna.Cathching everyone by surprise,Giovanna reveals that she feels Max would be a suitable person to give her a baby,due to Giovanna wanting "a lover,not a husband".
Taken aback by her request,Max comforts himself with the knowledge that he's got his best friend Michele and his secret,loyal lover Nina by his side.Whilst Michele is suspicious of Max being Nina's secret lover,and Max being suspicious that Michele knows that they are both lovers,Nina begins to wonder if Michele and Max will find out about her third,secret lover.
View on the film:
Bringing his own stage show to the big screen,co-writer/ (along with Dario Argento and Carlo Carunchio) director Giuseppe Patroni Griffi shows no fear at all in breaking the title out of its theatrical roots,with Griffi closely working with cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli,(who also did the cinematography for most of Sergio Leone's epics) and and backed by an ultra smooth jazzy score from Ennio Morricone to give the film a dazzling stylised atmosphere,with Griffi and Colli giving the movie a "light" appearance during the happier times of the character's relationship's,which gradually darken into Gothic blacks,as each of the characters start to discover how fragile their friendships (and marriage!) really is.
Showing,what looks to be a nod to the direction that co-writer Dario Argento would take later on,Griffi gives the secret hideaway of Nine's third secret lover a strong Gothic Horror chill,by placing him in a hidden,closed-off lair that is based underneath a theatre.
Limiting the number of characters to a handful of people,the writers take a scalpel and brilliantly cut deep into the gaps of Michele,Nina and Max's relationship,with the writer's showing Michael's idealistic image of an extra-marital affair to be something that contains darker veins hidden underneath.Featuring a (for its time) daring three-sum,the writer's s,smartly focus on the sensual and psychological effects of the event,as the writers gradually reveal,that instead of combining them together,Max and Nina now feel further apart than ever.
Giving the movie an erotic breeze,Florinda Bolkan gives an excellent performance as Nina,with Bolkan avoiding the cold shoulder that Nina could have been given,to instead give Nina a warm sensuality,that slowly reaches the suffice,as Nina and Max struggle to keep their affair hidden.Despite being given a rather stern role,Jean-Louis Trintignant,(who would decades later star in the Oscar winning movie Amour) gives Michael an oddly charming side,as Michael finds himself attempting to adapt to the new situation that he finds himself in.Showing all the skills that would lead to him shining in Dario Argento's debut,Tony Musante gives a fantastic performance as Max,with Musante peeling away Max's playboy layers,to show his weaknesses,as Max starts to fear that the "love circle" is about to close.
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