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Monday, September 11, 2006

Guest Review: So Sweet, So Perverse (Cosi Dolce, Cosi Perversa)

Kobra Zoltan (a.k.a Martin Holder) over at the European Film Review forums has made his writing debut into the world of cult film reviews and he begins with "So Sweet, So Perverse".
Enjoy and as always comments most welcome and hopefully there will be more articles and reviews on the way from Martin.

“A Sweet Kind of Perversion“

Italy/France/Germany/Eastmancolour (88mins)

Director : Umberto Lenzi
Producers : Mino Loy, Luciano Martino
Story : Luciano Martino
Screenplay : Ernesto Gastaldi
Cinematography : Memmo (Guglielmo) Mancori
Editor : Eugenio Alabiso
Music : Riz Ortolani
Song : “Why ?“ - Vincent Edward
Cast : Carroll Baker, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Erika Blanc, Horst Frank, Helga Line.

Despite some critics dismissing this film as being “nothing special “, this is yet another example of the slick & stylish thrillers where no-one is quite what they seem or who they appear to be , churned out by director Umberto Lenzi and ably assisted by the production duo of Mino Loy & Luciano Martino.

These three consistently managed to “deliver the goods” during a period when the Giallo was enjoying both a healthy period at the cinema’s and was in it’s ascendancy , both at home in Italy and making it’s mark in the worldwide market.

So what of the film? - the film concerns Jean-Louis Trintignant, this time not paired opposite his usual female sparring partner of such films as Death Laid an Egg & With Heart in Mouth - Ewa Aulin, this time he’s playing a Parisian Industrialist and socialite - Jean Reynaud - who’s marriage to Danielle - Erika Blanc is floundering.

But then a chance sighting of a mystery woman in a lift at his Parisian apartment proves not to be so accidental (as is so often the case in these films)>

After hearing sounds in the apartment above his, which according to the concierge is supposed to be abandoned, of a woman being assaulted, he investigates and discovers that the woman that he idly caught an glimpse of in the lift, is living in the apartment, and reveals herself to be Nicole (Carroll Baker), a seemingly terrified woman who is under the thrall of a domineering and controlling boyfriend, Klaus (Horst Frank).

Here the usual role essayed by Baker in previous Lenzi outings such as Orgasmo /Paranoia (A Quiet Place to Kill) of the frightened and/or scared female victim under threat from person or persons unknown is neatly turned on it’s head, that’s the impression she’s trying to convey to both Jean and the viewer, but as we will later learn Nicole is an entirely different type of role altogether than the ones Baker normally played for Lenzi.

Following this initial meeting, Nicole & Jean embark upon a torrid relationship, but she later reveals that she was set up as bait to entice him into a trap devised by Klaus, who’s been paid $20,000 to kill Jean , but by whom ?

After this shocking revelation, Nicole phones Jean and arranges to meet him at her apartment at midnight, but it’s a trap and Klaus kills him by stabbing him to death , but then burns his body and crashes his car , making it appear that he perished in a car accident.

You’d know be forgiven for thinking that Klaus & Nicole planned this from the start? - Well you’d be wrong! - it transpires that it was Danielle and Nicole that conspired to get their hands on Jean’s money, whilst Nicole cleverly managed to get Jean to sign control of his shares in the business over to her , but she tells Danielle that she “didn’t know what she was signing , and it’s only money”

But as the full revelation of what she’s done begins to sink in, Danielle starts feeling both guilty and remorseful, but then when messages from beyond the grave and mysterious phone calls start occurring, Danielle starts doubting her own sanity.

Is Jean still alive? - are Jean & Nicole secretly plotting together to drive Danielle insane in order to get their hands on her share of the money?

The answers to these questions I’ll leave for you to discover, the only thing I will say is that it would have been a neat twist if Helga Line character had been in on it, she plays a character who has a brief fling with Jean-Louis Trintignant’s character at the start of the picture, and it hinted is attracted to both sexes, but that’s about it.

I also feel that as an actress Line was criminally under-used in the Giallo genre, and could’ve easily played a leading role that was normally given to the likes of Edwige Fenech, Rosalba Neri, Barbara Boucher, et al.

Anyone expecting any type of “perversion” hinted by the title I’m afraid will be sorely disappointed, apart from the aforementioned Line’s character of a swinger, there’s a brief cameo by Beryl Cunningham at a party hosted by Line, playing a stripper, even the supposed Lesbianism between Baker & Blanc’s character’s is more suggestion , apart from a scene with the pair of them in black underwear and “baby doll“ nightie, there’s no hint of any salaciousness .

And the overall moral of the picture? - Money doesn’t always buy you happiness and as Nicole comes to realise life can be finite and treachery and deception must be paid for, sometimes, with the ultimate price, in the end.

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