24 November 2003 | dwingrove
Forget 'Fatal Attraction' - This Is the Real Thing!
Shot a year or so before Fatal Attraction and boasting an all-but identical plot, this deliciously sleazy little Euro-gem is everything the US blockbuster is not. Elegant, erotic, an eerily intelligent study of passion thwarted and love betrayed.
Mercifully, La Gabbia eschews the coarse misogyny of the Hollywood hit. Its philandering 'hero' (Tony Musante) is an unmitigated slimeball, and the rage of his discarded mistress (Laura Antonelli) strikes us as wholly justified, albeit a tad extreme. This refined and glamorous lady might not stoop to anything so crass as boiling a pet rabbit - but she does truss him up in chains, slash him with a razor and smear him (wastefully, I feel) with a tureen of the finest red caviar. Soon enough, her nubile teenage daughter (Blanca Marsillach) decides she wants a piece of the action too. Far be it from us to guess who her real father is...
Predictably enough, it is the exquisite Antonelli who dominates this film. No longer in her first youth, she has visibly gained weight since her classic roles in the 70s (Malizia, The Divine Nymph, The Innocent) but her psychosis is subtle and stylish - with none of the hysterical tooth-gnashing of Glenn Close. Few actresses of 45 would dare to risk a masturbation-in-black-lace-undies scene, as she does here. Fewer still could emerge from it with their dignity so wondrously intact.
The gauntly beautiful Florinda Bolkan has too little to do as Musante's current mistress. One longs to see her team up with Antonelli and teach this scumbag a real lesson! Although it was co-scripted by Lucio Fulci, La Gabbia goes lightly on the gore. In its hothouse eroticism and perverse visual beauty, it is visibly the work of its director, the shamefully underrated Giuseppe Patroni Griffi. The more sordid the emotions on display, the more lushly decorative his films become. He ranks with Losey and von Sternberg as one of the cinema's great twisted aesthetes.