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Totally different than you might expect

Author: peterosenau from Munich, Germany
12 December 2014

"Simona" was produced in the early Seventies, definitely during Laura Antonelli's most prolific and successful time of movie-making. It is surprising then that this movie quickly slipped into obscurity. But it doesn't take more than 10 minutes of watching to understand why.

It is a desolate village somewhere on the Belgian beaches, it is fall. The shy young man George meets the hooker Simona, and they quickly fall in love. Then they encounter the strange young girl Marcelle and two plus one equals three. Marcelle's problem is her degenerate father, a body preparator, who has never gotten over the death of his wife and sees Marcelle as some form of replacement. When he finds out about the girl's contacts to George and Simona, he locks her up in his castle. The rescue attempts have tragic consequences…

While this may sound like a love drama, the movie is 70ies weirdness galore. No other decade could produce anything comparable and bring it to the big screen. I guess the name Laura Antonelli would sell everything at that time, but that's a little bluff anyway. Lauras role is not too big and that important to justify naming the movie after it, if any, the movie should be called "Marcelle".

Don't expect anything here, especially no deep plot, no character development or even comprehensible behaviour, just a lot of "what the…" moments. This movie wants to be strange, different and vanguard by all means and is definitely successful at that. There is plenty of nudity, but it's never erotic. The sex is weird and disgusting (unless you got a fetish for doing it covered in slimy stinky seaweed). All characters are either weirdos or complete maniacs, with the exception of Marcelle who is the tragic center of events and the only person you can relate to.

The thin story is less about telling, but more about experiencing and breaking conventions. There are long sequences which, I guess, are supposed to resemble a drug trip, where statues come alive, they dance, they feast, it's an orgy and the trio is in the middle. And there are many more dream-like (or rather nightmarish), supernatural elements throughout the film. The father and his freak brother(?) are of course the icing on the cake in their pure insanity, the only elements to give this movie an edge of excitement.

I really liked the locations chosen for shooting. They are very moody and creepy, be it the empty beach, the forgotten theatre in the woods or the castle.

By 1973-1974 Laura Antonelli obviously wanted to leave the comedy genre behind and went for more serious roles that challenged her as an actress. "Simona" was not too good a pick, as said, although having the main credit her part is not too important, and running around and behaving utterly idiotic is nothing to distinguish yourself as an actor. While there is not too much Laura nudity to see, oh boy, is she beautiful. You'd really wish she had more scenes, especially in the second half.

Overall, it's not hard to see why this movie is so little known and why the IMDb average is so low. It goes straight past general audiences' expectations and conventions. I clearly admit I watched this just because of Laura Antonelli, and I didn't like it. Definitely not my cup of tea, but giving a rating wouldn't do it justice. Writing this a couple of days later, I must say the images and the whole experience stuck more with me than I expected. I guess that's what the director wanted.

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