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Pier Paolo Capponi,
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A young journalist, kind of a tame 60's Euro version of a feminist, finds herself kidnapped by a deranged male artist. He shows her photographs of a number of a women he claims to have killed, and promises to do the same to her when he's finished having his way with her. She seems to develop a case of Stockholm syndrome and soon becomes his willing playmate. But at the end neither of the them turns out to be what they initially appear (to give you just a hint, this movie is alternatively called either "The Frightened Woman" and "The Laughing Woman"). The plot of this movie resembles both the earlier film "The Collector" and the later "The Story of O", but it is very different from either. It also somewhat resembles the contemporary Japanese "pinku" movies, but is much more tame. Like other Italian movies released by Radley Metzger's Audobon Films (i.e. "La Matriarca)it kind of resembles one of Metzger's own films as well, but it is really its own unique creature.
With the possible exception of Metzger's "The Punishment of Anne" (which I've never seen) this might be the best version of a B-and-D/S- and-M film. (Granted, that's not saying much). This movie works as a B-and-D fantasy because it really explores the relationship and the ever-shifting nature of power between the dominant and submissive partner, and also because, even more importantly, it STAYS at the level of fantasy. In America they are so nervous about this subject for some reason that it is actually illegal to tie someone up in a hardcore porno movie. This may not be such a bad thing though because in countries like France and Germany, which have no such compunctions, the introduction of a hardcore footage into a B-and-D plot creates a jarring realism so at odds with the psychosexual fantasy that the whole thing, far from being exciting and disturbing, is mostly just silly and stupid. (There are also, of course, plenty of people who actually live this "lifestyle", but the less said of them the better).
The much more subtle, even tame approach really works here (for me). I especially enjoyed the pop-art set design and the kind of Freudian obsessions that were big in those days (i.e. one of the artists sculpture's looks like giant vagina dentata). The movie really doesn't get much more racy than Dagmar Lassender dancing around in an unraveling paper dress (but then again you ought to SEE Dagmar Lassender dance around in an unraveling paper dress), or more violent than some of the slide photographs the artist shows of his previous murder victims(which may not be genuine). I'm sure this arty and rather mild movie will disappoint both the serious porn addicts and the truly perverted S-and-M/bondage freaks, but for all of us curious (but not THAT curious) Euro movie fans it's a pretty decent way to go.
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