|Index||3 reviews in total|
Shot a year or so before Fatal Attraction and boasting an all-but
plot, this deliciously sleazy little Euro-gem is everything the US
blockbuster is not. Elegant, erotic, an eerily intelligent study of
thwarted and love betrayed.
Mercifully, La Gabbia eschews the coarse misogyny of the Hollywood hit. Its philandering 'hero' (Tony Musante) is an unmitigated slimeball, and the rage of his discarded mistress (Laura Antonelli) strikes us as wholly justified, albeit a tad extreme. This refined and glamorous lady might not stoop to anything so crass as boiling a pet rabbit - but she does truss him up in chains, slash him with a razor and smear him (wastefully, I feel) with a tureen of the finest red caviar. Soon enough, her nubile teenage daughter (Blanca Marsillach) decides she wants a piece of the action too. Far be it from us to guess who her real father is...
Predictably enough, it is the exquisite Antonelli who dominates this film. No longer in her first youth, she has visibly gained weight since her classic roles in the 70s (Malizia, The Divine Nymph, The Innocent) but her psychosis is subtle and stylish - with none of the hysterical tooth-gnashing of Glenn Close. Few actresses of 45 would dare to risk a masturbation-in-black-lace-undies scene, as she does here. Fewer still could emerge from it with their dignity so wondrously intact.
The gauntly beautiful Florinda Bolkan has too little to do as Musante's current mistress. One longs to see her team up with Antonelli and teach this scumbag a real lesson! Although it was co-scripted by Lucio Fulci, La Gabbia goes lightly on the gore. In its hothouse eroticism and perverse visual beauty, it is visibly the work of its director, the shamefully underrated Giuseppe Patroni Griffi. The more sordid the emotions on display, the more lushly decorative his films become. He ranks with Losey and von Sternberg as one of the cinema's great twisted aesthetes.
As another reviewer mentioned this movie is bound to be dismissed as a
"Fatal Attraction" rip-off, even though it was made two years earlier
and is a lot better, and certainly a lot more sexy, than that
reactionary piece of Hollywood crap. After seeing his girlfriend
(Florinda Bolkan) and her son off for the Christmas holidays, an
obnoxious lothario (Tony Musante) realizes that his girlfriend's
landlady was a girl who he knew fifteen years earlier and had seduced
and abandoned after taking her virginity. He introduces himself again
to the women, hoping to score some cheap sex while his girlfriend is
away. Since the now middle-aged woman is played by Italian sex diva
Laura Antonelli he's certainly not disappointed. He doesn't realize,
however, that the woman has become obsessed with him (god knows why),
and he soon finds himself tied to a bed and at the mercy of the
deranged woman and her "very curious" teenage daughter (Blanca
Laura Antonelli is very sexy in this movie although curiously she never really takes her clothes off (even during a masturbation scene). She still looks great; this was about the same time she appeared in the naked sex romp "The Venetian Lady" with a much younger man (Sean Connery's son Jason). Antonelli was always reputedly kind of snooty actress, so maybe she considered this role beneath her, but she certainly didn't hold back in any other way. Florinda Bolkan's role, on the other hand, is kind of phoned-in, sometimes literally (she spends a lot of time on the phone with her boyfriend's secretary, inquiring about his whereabouts). A lot of the sex appeal though is provided by the sexy Spanish Marsillach sisters. Blanca is muy caliente in a role eerily similar to the one she played in Lucio Fulci's last decent movie "The Devil's Honey" where she also took "revenge" on a poor middle-aged man by making him her sex slave (although if you do the math her character here would have to be less than fifteen years old!). Cristina Marsillach plays the younger version of Antonelli and has a ridiculously gratuitous full-frontal bondage scene that should really appeal to all her male fans from Dario Argento's "Opera".
There are other absurdities to this movie besides the Blanca Marsillach's age and Cristina Marsillach's B-and-D style de-virginizing. The biggest one is why any of these gorgeous women would be psychotically obsessed over the likes of Tony Musante. But I guess it's supposed to be kind of a masochistic male sex fantasy. And it certainly succeeds on that level (even if no one will exactly confuse it with Italian neo-realism).
This pretentious, claustrophobic sex drama which plays like a cross
between LAST TANGO IN Paris (1972) and THE NIGHT PORTER (1974) by way
of LOVE RITES (1988) was concocted by directors Francesco Barilli and
Lucio Fulci, while helmer Patroni Griffi was also behind the acclaimed
'TIS PITY SHE'S A WHORE (1971) which I own, but have yet to watch.
To begin with, it does boast a good cast: Tony Musante is O.K. as the object of desire for several women; Laura Antonelli glamorous but no longer young (in fact, I don't think she has any nude scenes here); Florinda Bolkan is underused in a thankless role; best of all are the sultry Marsillach sisters (Cristina playing Antonelli's character at a younger age when she had a clandestine fling with Musante and Blanca as her daughter, who finds herself just as much attracted to him). The latter are involved in (or are witness to) several steamy situations and, although according the IMDb they were of age when the film was shot, they sure as hell don't look it and, as such, the result is quite disturbing in spots and certainly leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth.
Anyhow, the narrative deals with Antonelli's elaborate revenge on the selfish Musante whose sado-masochistic practices she endured as a child and which have subsequently traumatized her for life: she now lives across the hall from his current lover Bolkan and eventually, with her daughter's help, he ends up trapped inside their apartment for days. The trouble is that the jealous offspring wants her mom's lover for herself! The abrupt open-ended conclusion is fashionable but, essentially, rather blah and Ennio Morricone's score isn't one of the maestro's best, either.
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