19 October 2006 | Cristi_Ciopron
Brass' best film
La Chiave (1983) is Brass' only masterpiece,Mrs. Sandrelli's most interesting role,and a peak of the European "trash films" of the '80s.I have seen this flick 4 times,and I found it excellent.Here,Brass is how he knows to be:shameless, shocking,clandestine, lascivious, tasty, scandalous, voluptuary,lustful,Nothingarian,misogynist at the basest level,lubricious;yes,indeed,quite a lot of things to enjoy.Brass is extremely skilled in exploiting his actresses' physical endowments.
"La Chiave" is an anecdote of bourgeois sexuality during WW2,and a study in Animality;in fact,Brass' coldness and detachment shows no trace of sympathy for his characters,hence the movie's naturalism.("Miranda" brings on screen a rustic debauchery during the same WW2,while "L'Uomo ..." is again a bourgeois adventure,but set in nowadays).WW2 is only an epic convention,because it gives a certain sense of exciting and violent trepidation and brutality and decrepitude,an epic device of the nihilist aestheticism (Pasolini,Bertolucci,Brass).Brass used WW2 as a narrative background in his Teresa Ann Savoy show,Salon Kitty (1976);in his Stefania Sandrelli show,La Chiave (1983) ;in his Serena Grandi show,Miranda (1985);in his Anna Galiena show,Senso '45 (2002).Under the pretext of unmasking this Fascist epoch,it is obvious that these directors pretty much indulged in the world they described.(The same device,of a shattering and totalitarian epoch,was exploited the same way in some Romanian films of the '90s,using the Bolshevick era of the '50s as a background for sexual frolics).
Stefania Sandrelli was 37 years in this movie,and lucent,slick,slightly adipose,of a very concrete and lusty beauty,luscious,soft-spoken,lurid,but also somehow lubberly.The passionless display of flesh expresses Brass' proclivity for an almost clinical and documentary examination of the nakedness.With this movie,Mrs. Sandrelli became one of the "Brass women".No director was ashamed to undress Mrs. Sandrelli (Bernardo Bertolucci in Il Conformista,1970; Bigas Luna in Jamón, Jamón,1992;Lina Wertmüller in Ninfa Plebea,1996).She posed nude even as an adolescent,I know a piquant picture with the naked teen-ager Sandrelli.
Barbara Cupisti is a suave and distinguished beauty.
There is a particular density of the naked flesh,and of the settings also.Brass displays much gusto;his style's plastic quality is extraordinary ."La Chiave" is written by Brass more like a chapter of ethology,and of sexual behaviors.
There are also other exciting Brass movies.Miranda (1985) (with Serena Grandi) is almost as good as La Chiave (1983),though in a different register,and L'Uomo Che Guarda (1994) (with Katarina Vasilissa,Cristina Garavaglia )is also a fine,thrilling show."Miranda" is a little more cheerful then "La Chiave",and more picturesque as narration,its sexual content is also more erratic (though to see Mrs. Sandrelli asleep being taken advantage of,is no cheap fun either).All these 3 movies are frank and straight.Brass' choice of the actresses is always exquisite.I have seen a photo representing Mrs. Sandrelli while her breast is fondled,or rather felt by Brass;the actress laughs wildly and she seems to be much older than in "La Chiave"; this gallant scene looks like taking place in a very public space.
While "La Chiave",Miranda (1985),L' Uomo Che Guarda (1994) show derisively woman's depravity,and warm it up, with malice and irony,Senso '45 (2002) marks a decline;it tries to depict woman's love,and fails.Brass' shamelessness lost all its charm and became the sheer Prosaism of Senso '45 (2002) (a banal and conventional,tasteless adultery,moreover inverting Brass' opinion about women;this man was libidinous,base, trenchant and lascivious,and turned sentimental and emotional).The only good thing about "Senso" is Mrs. Erika Savastani 's supporting role as "Emilietta" .
"La Chiave" is one in a series of medallions of beautiful women,astounding studies of women,on a par with Miranda (1985),Andrea Barzini's Desiderando Giulia (1985),Andrea Bianchi's Dolce Pelle Di Angela (1987),Spiando Marina (1992),L'Uomo Che Guarda (1994),Malèna (2000) ,etc..In the unconventional erotica,Brass' equals are the far less famous Andrea Barzini (the author of the best Serena Grandi show,made when she was 27 years),Andrea Bianchi,the author of the underrated Dolce Pelle Di Angela (1987).These masterpieces,signed by Bianchi and Barzini,and other wonderful Deborah Caprioglio and Serena Grandi shows could be seen in Romanian movie theaters 13 years ago.
Many are too preoccupied with the film's sexual content,to may be able to notice the exceptional visual beauty.
If you have reasons to like Mrs. Sandrelli others than this movie,then "La Chiave" will be a treat.