13 February 2007 | lazarillo
The Italian "Lolita"
A middle-age man (Maurice Ronet) returns from France to his hometown in Sicily where he begins an affair with his former sweetheart (Lisa Gastoni), who is now a widow. He just can't resist the women's teenage daughter, however (or the daughter's curious best friend). Although this was based on an Italian novel called "Graziella", it is obviously also very much modeled after the classic Vladimir Nabokov novel "Lolita", even containing a variation on the sofa seduction that has been left out of both of the prudish Americ adaptations of that novel. Of course, this movie stacks the deck quite a bit by casting a very ripe Jenny Tamburi as the "fifteen-year-old girl". In accompanying documentary, director Ferdinand DiLeo tries to make a distinction between what he calls "Lolita-ism" and pedophilia, but whether you buy this dubious argument or not, you'd have to agree that ANY man of ANY age is going to be attracted to the then 20-year-old Jenny Tamburi.
DiLeo is becoming a respected director due to his back catalogue of gialli and poliziani movies, but he is a little out of his element here with a more subtle movie based on dramatic relationships. The movie looks visually great like all DiLeo films, but the script requires the characters to act in ways no human being (especially no hot-headed Sicilian human being)probably would. The movie is redeemed a lot though by great acting: Maurice Ronet makes his slimy character a lot more sympathetic and likable than he should be. Lisa Gastoni is good in a brave role that not only requires her to bare her body, but also to bare her soul as an aging beauty passed over for her fresher daughter. Amazingly, Ornella Muti was originally slated for the part of the daughter, but Gastoni vetoed it because she thought Muti was too pretty. This makes no sense for many reasons, not the least of which is that her replacement Tamburi was a long way (a long, LONG way) from being unattractive. Still it was a good decision because Tamburi was the better actress at the time even though she didn't go to have the long, illustrious career Muti did.
This is good adaptation of the Lolita story being neither as ridiculously circumspect as the two official American versions nor as borderline pedophilic as the many unofficial French ones ("Beau Pere", "One Wild Moment"etc.). Recommended