Since time immemorial, the simple-minded boisterous people of Malava, a small Polish town near the border of imperial Russia, have lived on horse-stealing, horse-trading and horse-smuggling... See full summary »
You may or may not like this movie, but you definitely won't forget it. It's an Italian film, but shot on location at Oxford University with the dialogue synced British-style rather than dubbed like with most Italian films. It focuses on the the brutal class relations and the storied May Day rituals at the world's most prestigious university. The protagonist (Alessandro Oranio) is a working-class Italian student attending Oxford on a rowing scholarship and trying to fit in among his aristocratic British peers in an absolutely unforgiving environment of rarefied class privilege. He meets and gets severely teased by the daughter (Jane Birkin)of one of the Oxford "dons" who tutors him. The end, which takes place at the drunken May Day celebration, is absolutely brutal (albeit also pretty unmotivated). It'll definitely stay with you for a long time afterwords.
The best part of this movie is the two leads. I always had Alessandro Oranio pegged as a talentless pretty-boy (he was once married to Ornella Muti--I always figured, because she was one on the few women in Italy actually prettier than he was). But after seeing this and his very first movie with Muti,"The Most Beautiful Wife", I've really had to reevaluate my initial judgment. He is especially impressive here, acting in what is obviously his second language. As for Jane Birkin--well, what can you say about Jane Birkin? She is one of my all time favorite British actresses. She was a singer and actress who was genuinely talented at both. She had an incredible body which she displayed in practically every role (she supposedly has the first ever full-frontal nude scene in a mainstream movie in Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blow-up"). And as icing on the cake, she later gave birth to Charlotte Gainsboug, another stunning beauty and one of my favorite FRENCH actresses.
Both actors are very good here and their convincing performances really flesh out what are some pretty opaque characters. I have to wonder though what people at Oxford thought of this movie. (Its portrayal of Oxford undergrads makes the pagans in "The Wicker Man" seem positively genteel and civilized). Definitely recommended though.
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