Love Me Strangely (1971) Poster

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Interesting psychological melodrama, not quite horror
ofumalow1 September 2014
This glossy, starry melodrama, which seldom seems to settle on just what kind of it wants to be, stars Visconti muse Helmut Berger as a wealthy man who willfully drives one wife to suicide, then seduces the equally beautiful blonde neighbor (Virna Lisi) who witnessed that death. He then proceeds to sadistically wear at her mental and physical health, just as he'd done before. The late shift from making Berger an insidious playboy schemer to a vulnerable, damaged victim of his upbringing doesn't work very well, nor can we accept Lisi's return toward adoration of her new husband despite all her preceding abuse and stubborn resistance to it.

Despite that, and a weak ending, this is an interesting quasi-giallo that makes good use of Berger's inherent ambiguity as a screen presence. At first we're meant to understand he's a playboy predator toward women, but it gradually (and more credibly) emerges that his sexuality is very different from the guise he assumes publicly, and which he abuses in private by manipulating women whose attentions flatter him.

So here we have Helmut Berger as a handsome, neurotic, attention-needy gay man trying to convince the world that he's a he-man. (Not that gay men can't be macho, but Berger would have a very hard time suggesting that.) You don't need to reach far to grasp the real-life parallels. You could call this movie homophobic, in its eventual psychological emphasis on a closet case who acts out his frustrations via misogyny. But the movie doesn't succumb to the blunt anti-gay stereotyping typical of the era.

Lesser roles are filled by the lies of Edith Scob, Charles Anzavour, Alain Noury, so this is an instance of major talent being expended (wasted?) on sorta-junky material. It's neither a good movie or a bad one--just an above-average European commercial effort that ultimately doesn't rise far enough above to be memorable.
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Helmut Berger and Virna Lisi
dbdumonteil24 October 2007
A handsome man who starred in Visconti's masterworks ("La Caduti dei Degli" "Ludwig" ) and an attractive actress make this Gobbi's thriller watchable.Gobbi is some kind of drudge, whose films are OK when the screenplay is.Such was the case of "Maldonne" ,the script of which was adapted from a Boileau/Narcejac ("Diabolique" "Vertigo" ) novel ,such is the case of "un beau monstre".

Berger has magnetism and mystery going for him and he is credible as the "handsome " monster of the title.Although warned by a cop (Charles Aznavour) ,gorgeous Lisi falls for him.And however ...he might be a modern Bluebeard...

Lisi worked again with Gobbi in the mid-seventies ,and that time,the movie was a disaster("Les galets d'Etretat" for the record).
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8/10
kept me most engaged
christopher-underwood7 February 2015
Well trust the strange French to come up with a such a strange film of strange love. My print bears the title, Love Me Strangely, though, strangely enough the box has, The Last Dance of the Blonde Devil, which is really bizarre and seems to caste the blame for all the strangeness on poor Virna Lisi. She is very good, bit past her prime, but does really well with a difficult part. Helmut Berger is excellent and fully convincing as the real Mr Strange. The sexual scenes ate mild by today's standards but are still effective and must have packed a punch back in the day. I suppose the film is a little overlong but it kept me most engaged and I was surprised to find that it ran just under two hours. Always looks good, the music is very much of the time but because it is French not the best rock music in the world, but helps things along anyway. Interesting, thought provoking and more than a little creepy without veering into the horror genre. Charles Aznavour surprisingly good and if his explanation of Berger's strangeness towards the end a little pat, this is not his fault. Very enjoyable, if a little worrying.
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