3 December 2002 | Guy Grand
This Cricket doesn't really chirp until the last 30 minutes
Virna Lisi plays Wilma, a travelling singer, who's known by patrons as much for her sexual techniques as she is for her cabaret vocalizations. Already in her late 40's, she's not faring well on the prostitution path of life when her fortune takes a turn after meeting Clio Goldsmith. Goldsmith is first introduced as a brainless nymphet confessing to a priest that she can't stop "doing" it. Naturally, the viewer's inclination, right at the start of the film, is to brace themselves for another one of those Italian "comedies" where portly, ugly men grope young, beautiful girls, and somewhere in Turin, they're rolling in the aisles with cacophonous laughter.
However, once the story gets underway, far more adult machinations begin to take place. Lisi and Goldsmith encounter Anthony Franciosa, a self-made businessman who owns a roadside gas stop, complete with bed and breakfast and billiards. Quicker than a reel change, Lisi and Franciosa are hitched and are living the fun life running the immense truck stop. Limp quips and leering drivers fill the middle half of the film, but when Lisi's 17-year old daughter appears, things get twisted in a carnal and deadly way before we see it coming. Soon, Lisi is the neglected wife, jealous of her long-lost daughter's assets, which leads to grave results for practically everyone.
Because of this left turn in tone and storytelling, "La Cicala" rises above the humorless romp of '80s Italian comedies and presents us with a far more meatier subject matter. Of course, this somber change in tone doesn't divert the director from incessantly focusing his lens at every curve of Ms. Goldsmith's and Ms. De Rossi's naked bodies with every exploitative moment he can wring from their performance. The direction is obviously rather amateurish, however, the technical crew (photography, lighting, etc.) and acting (particularly old pros Lisi, Franciosa, and good ol' standby Renato) lend this production more gravity and polish than it necessarily deserves.
If you're in the need for a love triangle soap opera, you will find all the necessary ingredients to satisfy your taste in "La Cicala." My rating: ** out of ****.