16 March 2008 | lazarillo
Strange, arty Italian film with an interesting cast
Some wag might describe this movie as an incestuous, turn-of-the-century version of "The Brady Bunch", or as "Oliver finally gets some", but far be it from me to say something like that. An adolescent boy (Mark Lester) and girl (Monica Guerritori)meet at a rural, turn-of-the-century Austrian resort where they are vacationing with their respective liberal-minded, single parents (Claudio Casanelli and Anne Heywood). Their budding love affair hits a serious snag when their two parents fall in love as well. This is an odd movie--even in Europe I think it's a little strange for two parents to watch their teenagers, naked and about to have sex, and remark on how "beautiful" they look. This is not really some sleazy sex flick though; it hews closer to Italian art than Italian sleaze, and the actual sexual content is actually pretty tame. Also, the "upstairs" love affairs are interspersed with a lot of "downstairs" drama involving the family that manages the resort, which includes a semi-retarded son who's obsessed with the Guerritori character, and a daughter whose ongoing feud with a guest's pet monkey(?) leads her to pretend to sleepwalk and eventually run away from home.
Contrary to the previous reviewer, I would say the unusual cast IS this movie's main strength, at least much more than the bizarre and random plot. Like many an adorable moppet, child actor Mark "Oliver" Lester grew up into kind of creepy adolescent. He's kind of an odd leading man, and it doesn't help that his character is given to reciting weird poems about dying flies. Anne Heywood, like Lester, started out in arty British fare like "Black Narcissus", but ended up pretty much plumbing the depths of Italian exploitation flicks (if you think this is sleazy movie, check out Heywood in "Ring of Darknes" or Lester in "What the Peeper Saw" sometime). Monica Guerritori was kind of a younger version of Laura Antonelli (with whom she later appeared in "The Venetian Lady"). Like Antonelli, she usually appeared butt-naked in only the classiest Italian art films. The most underrated actor here though is Claudio Cassanelli, who starred in a lot of Sergio Martino high-end exploitation flicks and died tragically in a helicopter crash.
I wouldn't recommend this movie to everybody, but if you're aware of its existence, I imagine you might like it.