I spent the 2 hours last Saturday evening watching this film (part of a Wertmueller collection I'd purchase a couple of years ago), and when it was over I sat longer in stunned silence, savoring the beautiful film and touching story I'd just been engaged with. Gorgeous scenery and photography, colorful settings, fine acting and ensemble, a touching, even if troubling, story. Yes, this film may be difficult for more sensitive viewers, especially Americans, who are not the most comfortable with bodily functions and casual sexuality. After all, we live in a culture that won't allow a parent to spank their own child, and where a teacher has to make sure another adult is in the room when holding a conference with a student, etc. We've become increasingly distanced from natural affections and physicality, and that's very unlike the characters in this movie, But the Director was not seeking to make a film that would provide titillation as regards young girls, and I'm a gay male with no interest in youngsters, male or female. Rather, she has told a poignant and sometimes wrenching tale of WWII Italy and the tribulations of the child of a "whore" and what she comes to face amongst the difficulties of a society affected by warfare and privation, the attitudes to be found in smaller towns, the assumptions about herself that she has to defeat and her ability to triumph despite it all. Yes, some of the scenes are a bit surprising (I won't say "shocking"), but I never felt as if I was viewing pornography, soft or otherwise. I always felt that the director was seeking to make a point about the figures in her story, and I was left with an overwhelming joy at the basic humanity and "realness" of the characters. I even at first thought the plot may have been taken from a story by Guy de Maupassant, so lovely was its focus on real people, warts and all, without any sign of being judgmental. Please don't allow any misgivings to dissuade you from seeing this film (although you probably won't want to watch it with your kids), I think you will be glad you did when you reach the end.
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