Directed by: Lina Wertmuller
Starring: Giancarlo Giannini, Mariangel Melato, Turi Ferro, Agostina Belli
For a brief period -- roughly from this 1972 release till 1978's The End of the World in Our Usual Bed in a Night Full of Rain -- Lina Wertmuller was the darling of the art house crowd. All Screwed Up, Love and Anarchy, Swept Away... by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August and Seven Beauties all belong to this era -- a time when you couldn't seem to pick up a film magazine without encountering an article about Wertmuller.
And then -- suddenly the Wertmuller vogue passed. Why? I'm not sure, but then I was never sure she deserved all the adulation to begin with. Still, Wertmuller was a major force in film for a time and her work hardly merits the near obscurity it has today. Her sense of comedy might be a little broad, sometimes clunky, and a little too predicated on the charm of her usual leading man, Giancarlo Giannini. But her films have drive, style, life and a healthy dose of social commentary.
All of these things are true of her first hit, The Seduction of Mimi, a brisk satire that has its hero (Giannini) black listed for voting against a Mafia candidate in a supposedly secret election. Fed up, he leaves his wife, moves to Turin, takes up communism and a sort of double life with a Maoist girlfriend -- only to find himself working for the very gangsters that caused his troubles in the first place. Richly detailed, pointed in its satire and sometimes hysterically funny, it's a good starting point for a reassessment of a filmmaker worth another look.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke