- Screwball Comedy, Italian Style 7/30/2004 12:00:00 AM by Arriflex1
Back in the 1970's Lina Wertmuller was an art-house superstar. But more importantly, she was a first class original, bursting with a fresh, exciting vision.
Now, here's a lively storyline: a rich, racist, reactionary female- a right wing, fascist mind in a knuckle-biting, voluptuous body -is stranded on a mid-sea desert isle with a poverty-stricken, chauvinistic, Communist male- a left-leaning propagandist in a scrawny masculine body. "Make nice" they don't. Well, not right off the bat. Not before much nasty invective and grievous bodily assault take place. But then afterward....ahh, afterward.
SWEPT AWAY, though a foreign film, is in the manic, irreverent, well-timed tradition of Hollywood screwball comedies like THE AWFUL TRUTH(1937), MIDNIGHT(1939), THE LADY EVE(1941), and most emphatically, HIS GIRL FRIDAY(1940)- only with a shipload more profane repartee, orgiastic lust, and bone-crunching physicality than was ever permissible or desirable in those older classics. Throwing all vestiges of caution to the four winds, Wertmuller really surprises the viewer with her take on the battle of the genders strained through a volcanic political dialectic.
Upon its initial release many in the audience demurred strongly (and still do) as the male's dominance slipped into outright brutality. Certainly, Wertmuller can be accused of going too far, but never of boring us. Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangelo Melato are absolutely letter perfect: sulking, teasing, attacking, retreating, seducing, rampaging, abandoning. Their director spurs them through an emotional and physical gauntlet and they meet each dramatic challenge with winning artistry. You may feel wrung out by film's end. Or enraged. Or both. But you'll have quite a time.
- Keeps reinventing itself; highly recommended 11/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by zetes
A film that's exceedingly difficult to pin down. It would be easy to dismiss it, but it's just as easy to be startled and amazed by it. The story's simple enough: a shaggy, dark-skinned man (played by Giancarlo Gianni) works under the thumb of the bourgoisie on a hired yacht. He despises them, and they despise him. One of these rich people is particularly annoying, a blonde woman (Mariangelo Melato), who spends her days incessantly bitching, spouting capitalist slogans, and putting down the servant class. These two characters, not surprisingly, end up together on a dinghy whose motor has broken. She never shuts up, he stares at her murderously. They eventually land on a deserted island, where he refuses to help her whatsoever. She eventually has to submit to whatever abuses he chooses to dish out. Yes, that does include physical and eventually a near-rape, which will certainly disgust and upset a lot of the film's audience. The film can actually be sort of perverse. I'm sure many have marvelled that, with some of the film's crueller scenes, the film was directed by a woman. It is actually, in its way, nearly as perverse at some times as The Night Porter, directed in the very same year in Italy, also by a woman. That film's merits are more dubious than Swept Away's, however. The film is unexpectedly hilarious, at least for the first forty-five minutes or so. When the abuse starts, the film begins to shift to a social issues picture. Class issues are important, as well as racial issues (which kind of amount to the same thing). I didn't mind seeing the woman verbally abused - she spent the first forty-five minutes doing the same to the guy. The smackings she receives were hard for even me to take, however. The politics are nevertheless exceedingly interesting. The film has some very good material on the social constructions of class. After this section of the film, the story shifts to erotica, and it is very erotic at times. In this section, the film is a direct descendent of Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (as was The Night Porter, incidentally). After that, the film shifts once again to romantic melodrama, as the two are rescued. The man makes the decision to signal a yacht that he sees in the distance simply because he wants to test the deep love that the woman swears by. These shifts in narrative can be clearly felt, like upshifting in a manual transmission vehicle, but it works rather well. I was always right with the film with its emotions (although it took me a good twenty minutes to get into the film). I ended up rather loving it, despite its flaws. Now I actually want to see the Madonna version to see how bad that hack Guy Ritchie screwed it up. At one point in the film the man tells the woman that she looks like the Madonna. Pretty funny, no? 9/10.
- Can opposites attract? 11/3/1998 12:00:00 AM by lib-4
Despite the shrewish bitching of Rafaella and the grumbling of the sailor help- this is a very thought-provoking movie. What especially helps is the cinematography- by Wertmuller's husband- the white sailor uniform, the black diaphanous garb of R. and the blue sea as backdrop. As the affair progressed from hate to a passionate love the changes in body language is well done. Though I saw this movie many years ago- its power to address class wars, the battle between men and women and in inevitable conclusion has never left me.
- Fantastic! 10/19/2002 12:00:00 AM by morgan1976
I really loved this movie. I have to admit I only saw this because I heard of Madonna's remake and my love for the Goldie Hawn movie "Overboard", but...wow! Interesting, romantic, powerful, hard-to-watch, political, funny, sad, etc. This movie has it all. You can analyze this movie to death, but it will do it a disservice. Quite simply, it's about a bizarre romance that happens when two people who are total opposites, thus hating each other, are stranded on a remote island and must learn how to live together. By today's standards, this is a very un-P.C. movie: Male domination over a woman. However, it IS just a movie, not real life--don't let that put you off; and there are some scenes that are hard to take, but given the context of the characters, you might think to yourself--"is this deserved?" I think some parts are, and others--not at all. You might like this film if you liked Pedro Almodovar's "Atame! (Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!)". This is a film you'll end up discussing with others after you've seen it. Also, I don't recommend viewing this around children or very impressionable teenagers.
- Simply wonderful 2/18/2000 12:00:00 AM by Merely
Sometimes, there is nothing better than just a simple tale, easy to follow, with breathtaking scenery. Wonderfully acted story that draws you in. Giancarlo Giannini is THE best Italian actor of his time. And as a bonus, with the explicit subtitles, you can learn how to curse in Italian! While the abusive male behaviour is not terribly pc these days, it reflects the culture of some European countries. All in all shows why foreign films are so different from American films. Viva la difference!