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|Index||17 reviews in total|
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut
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I watched "the original X-rated theatrical version" (gee, lucky me) and I can tell you Maruschka Detmers has headlights that point very sharply in the direction they want to go. She is also very pretty, although I'm not sure she is prettier than her co-star, Federico Pitzalis. Clearly, she is taller. Yes, this is a very sexy movie, which some might say is its raison d'etre, but that's really beside the point. What matters here is school-boy wish fulfillment, a little self-indulgence by Director Marco Bellocchio.
Well, why not? It isn't often that the boy gets the beautiful woman, especially when in competition with his suave father, a handsome and distinguished psychiatrist, and her fiancé, a well-heeled and attractive terrorist. I mean, this could happen, couldn't it?
I didn't see the original French version of 1946, in which the terrorist was a soldier in World War I. I understand it was better. I'm willing to bet that Bellocchio saw it and had the sort of relationship with it that a later generation had with Star Wars, e.g., and just had to relive the fantasy.
Nonetheless, and having said all that, this is not a bad movie. I'm not sure who is supposed to be the "devil in the flesh," but Maruschka is worth the price of the ticket and then some.
This 1986 Italian-French remake of the 1946 film of the same name turns up the heat early, and doesn't let us come up for air. The story is about a high-school student (Federico Pitzalis) who can't keep his eyes off the mysteriously beautiful young woman (played by Dutch phenom Maruschka Detmers) who lives next door to the school. One day, he follows her, and his persistence pays off. There's only one problem: She's engaged to a sketchy character (Riccardo De Torrebruna) who may or may not have committed a heinous crime, and if he repents, will probably be let off with a slap on the wrist. Also, the young woman is a little "funny in the head", and this is corroborated when we discover she has been seeing the boy's father, who is a psychiatrist. Giulia's emotional instability is only equalled by her prodigious sexual desires. Hot, hot, hot, from the word go, with handsome leads and a bombshell performance from Detmers, who plays us like a yo-yo (as she does the boy) from scene to scene, with enough suspense to keep us guessing right up until--and even after--the end. Available in R and X (!) rated versions.
Well-worth seeing! Marco Bellocchio succeeds in analysing the rot and opportunism affecting a typical bourgeois family in the late 80s. Long gone is the optimism of the revolutionary 60s and 70s. But underneath all the muck there still is enough life and spontaneity there waiting to break through not only sexually but hopefully politically too. A very authentic, not at all dogmatic film, one which succeeds in showing the erotic side of love without falling into the trap of cheapness or boredom.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Bellocchio refers to this as a mainly political movie, a description of
the revolutionary movement in Italy, but that seems more metaphor than
reality. Well, almost everything in the movie seems like metaphor. The
revolutionaries, of whom we see and about whom we learn very little,
might as well be mafiosi. Out with the old and in with the new.
Andrea's Papa, a psychoanalyst, seems to stand for the usual traditional bourgeois values -- morally upright, unperturbed, clean and tidy, thoroughly ritualized.
Giullia, the girlfriend of a revolutionary, seems to represent what can happen to someone who needs very badly a cause to support but is unable to muster up the kind of devotion such a commitment demands. (I'm guessing here.) Andrea, the adolescent boy, seems to be the only guy in the movie who is not in some unquiet way "upatz." He's respectful of his father but disobedient too. He loves Giullia, or so we assume, although he's not really old enough to have learned how to manage his reflexes optimally, but he leaves her in order to show up at school and complete his final exams. His course between these contradictory lifestyles could be described as "media." He's the man in between, who knows the meaning of gradualism, who can keep his cool while those about him are screaming.
Most of this is summed up during the oral part of his finals when he is asked to translate and comment on an excerpt from "Antigone," which contrasts the traditional authority of the gods with the notion of secularity and free will.
That brings us -- by no particular course that I'm aware of -- to Marushka Detmars. She brings to mind a New Yorker cartoon of a few years ago. Two hippos are neck-deep in the river, staring at a gazelle drinking from the bank, and one hippo says to the other, "I hate her." She's a good actress. (Let me get that out of the way.) But so is everyone else in the film. She carries with her, in her speech and manner, the rich glitter of outright lunacy. And it all comes from the actress too, not from directorial aid. Detmars isn't nuts the way Catherine DeNeuve was nuts in "Repulsion." The walls don't turn to rubber and grow hands. Instead, we see her animated -- sometimes TOO animated. And she gives us shocking jolts when her mood abruptly changes and becomes threatening the way a looming thunderstorm is threatening.
A critic described her as sultry, but that's probably not the word he was searching for. She's compellingly beautiful with her fluffy brown hair, her wide white ready grin, her impulsive giggles. And her eyes are like the eyes in the paintings on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs. The sexy parts are pretty erotic, not so much because one of them is explicit, but because we've gotten to know the characters involved. (It's more interesting to spy on the honeymoon couple next door than go to a skin flick.) Actually there isn't THAT much sex. There is only one scene of simulated intercourse but the director lets it play out in what seems to be real time. At least real time for an eighteen-year-old boy.
The young man who plays Andrea is fine too, which is a necessary thing, because the film depends almost entirely on him and Giullia. They have to carry it and they do. If it were not for their performances, I'm not sure this would be as interesting or as admirable flick as it is. It could easily have been turned into a rather slow, boring romance.
I loved the the film. it beautifully analyzes Italian petty bourgeois
society, how the leftists of the 70s have given up all their ideals and
come to a happy arrangement which they don't want disturbed. For
instance, the aging psychoanalyst who is jealous of his own son, and
doesn't want to be reminded of his more radical youth.
For a long time wanted to buy the video after having seen the movie a couple of times on the big screen and on TV, but it seems to have completely disappeared from the market, even in Italy no one in the book shops knew about the film. a great pity.
The one sex scene, which everyone seems to go on about, does the film no harm.
I'll be quick to address the matters of the film here: It was a very
engaging story about the destructive qualities about all-consuming
passions; a young Italian woman who cannot emotionally connect with her
jailed political-radical fiancé (due in part to her apolitical
attitudes and freewheeling approach to life) finds solace and passion
in a new young lover whom she embarks on an explicitly sexual
relationship with. The anxieties, rage, tenderness and passions that
swirl around in the atmosphere of the story equal the dispassionate
quiet that seems to engulf the two leads. It lends the film an
unsettling mood that permeates through all the political strife that is
otherwise lost on the viewer (unless you have a deep knowledge of
Italian politics during the 80's). I found the film compelling...what
ruined it somewhat is a gratuitous oral sex scene that the actress
performs on the male lead...it isn't simulated and leaves little to the
imagination. There are other scenes of sex in the film, which I do feel
were necessary because they outline the madness and loneliness that the
characters live in. But the oral sex scene, I feel, derails the focus
on the actual story. It was smooth sailing up until that point and once
the infamous sex scene appears (which caused much hoopla back in its
day), it's like hitting a roadblock. It's jarring and unnecessary and I
am in the camp that believes that the film would not have been harmed
any if the scene had been removed from it. And what's unfortunate is
that this particular scene may deter people from watching this
intriguing film, which I believe is worth a viewing because there is so
much going on underneath the surface, emotions and further turmoils
layered in the subtext.
Overall: Wonderful film hampered by a much not-needed sex scene.
The movie was promoted as a really sensual love story. There is more
about it. If you know the history of Italy in the 80's, Red Brigades,
left wing revolutionaries students or are interested to learn more,
it's a good start. A big part of contemporary western Europe history.
Italy and France really entered the capitalistic word in the 80's, and
of course there was a left wing reaction of people for who America and
the European Union capitalistic project was not the role model to
follow. Every weeks, there were political murder, terrorist attacks and
kidnappings. If you had some hot sex scenes and beautiful Marushka
Detmers, you have a pretty good and interesting movie.
the movie is far more sophisticated and intelligent is its exploration of sexual tension than such American attempts as 9 and a half weeks...the courtroom scene itself...with the couple copulating in the cage while the heroine pleads for their orgasm...is amazing...I have not seen this movie in 20 years...but it made indelible pictures in my mind...it is rich in texture and successful in creating a world where sex is the engine for all activity, and at its bottom is the yawning angst that lives in us all....the plot is European, and it meanders a bit, but so does life...especially when you are 17 and have a constant hard on....
If only this could have a decent story to make us more interested than
just seeing an bizarre love story between a horny teenager and a
beautiful and somewhat problematic woman. The problem is that "Diavolo
in Corpo" ("Devil in the Flesh") begins well but ends so weak that
there isn't much positive things to be said after this, and not even
its most infamous moment deserves so much credit. It's a lifeless film
that knows how to tease its viewers with a highly sensual and erotic
story that grabs them all with an explicit sex scene, concluding with
an absurd and ridiculous ending.
Nonetheless, somehow this has some good merits. Director Marco Bellocchio (from the great "Good Morning, Night") surely cast two interesting and beautiful stars for his love story; their acting abilities goes in between good and ferociously bad. Maruschka Detmers is very wild and sexy as the lady who tempts the life of the bello ragazzo Federico Pitzalis (amazingly his only screen credit), a young student deeply in love with her. The plot goes into show us that she's waiting her fianceé to be released from jail, arrested after his involvement in political activities against the government. The rest is a bunch of low and uninteresting surprises.
It's very unbelievable the romance between the boy and the woman, I mean, everything is so colorful, happy and happens too fast; sure they have problems, she's completely nuts and has some hysterical attacks, but there isn't much time to look deep into all that. These things might work but only if we're talking about fanfics (and sometimes they're better written than many films out there).
Those who complained about the film being difficult to follow I wonder how are they treating their brain. This is very easy to follow, the story has a good pace; it's just not that interesting except for the sex scenes. And those scenes are the highlight of this film, that's why people know about it and the reason why they give a try for it. Well, they're well filmed and very exciting. Now, about the famous scene where Detmers performs oral sex in Federico, it isn't so special if you've seen the one of "Brown Bunny" for instance. But it is real, and it's not that dark as many tend to say, it's clearly visible (if only that beautiful boy had a bigger product, if you know what I mean).
I don't know what ruined this film for me, if it was the awful soundtrack (it really hurts the ears) or the director's pretense in trying to make some political statements that simply didn't fit the plot no matter how hard he forced that on us. See it for yourself, kill your curiosity and like it or not. We all go a little silly, sometimes! And that's why films like this have a surprising ability to be viewed even almost 30 years of its making. 5/10
I really liked this movie, and went back to see it two times more
within a week.
Ms. Detmers nailed the performance - she was like a hungry cat on the prowl, toying with her prey. She lashes out in rage and lust, taking a "too young" lover, and crashing hundreds of her terrorist fiancé's mother's pieces of fine china to the floor.
The film was full of beautiful touches. The Maserati, the wonderful wardrobe, the flower boxes along the rooftops. I particularly enjoyed the ancient Greek class and the recitation of 'Antigone'.
It had a feeling of 'Story of O' - that is, where people of means indulge in unrestrained sexual adventure. As she walks around the fantastic apartment in the buff, she is at ease - and why not, what is to restrain a "Devil in the Flesh"?
The whole movie is a real treat!
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