Friday, December 11, 2009

Movie Notes: Trasgredire (2000)

Tinto Brass makes dirty movies.

However, his work has a certain cache because his dirty movies are very well-made, quite stylish, and tend more towards the tease than the pornographic. They're well-liked among a certain kind of feminist. It's interesting to me that his films often express a philosophy about female desire and infidelity that I'm not sure I remember seeing in any other movies. The vast majority of films (and quite a bit of literature) treat female infidelity as potent, but ultimately destructive, to others and usually to herself. It always ends badly.

And then you have Tinto Brass. In contrast, his films basically argue that female infidelity is not only healthy, but actually strengthens and enriches her primary relationship. He thinks monogamy is unnatural. So, for a cheating woman, the occasional fling is good for her libido, fun, and has no real effect on her love for her partner. For the cuckold, his unconfirmed suspicions arouse a tinge of jealousy, which ignites his sexual desire. So, their sex life is improved by increased desire on both ends. It's sort of a win-win situation. One can disagree with a lot here; although (to be a bit provocative) I'll admit that it does make a good bit of sense. And it's perhaps the most non-misogynist attitude I've ever seen in a dirty movie. Because his point seems to be that jealous men (the fountainhead of misogyny) just need to get over it.

Certainly that's the case in Trasgredire (released as "Cheeky!" in the UK, and "Transgressions" in the US). The main character, Carla (Yula Mayarchuk), has just moved to London from Venice in order to go to school, and is trying to get her boyfriend Matteo (Jarno Berardi) to come join her. She's quite a beautiful girl and, like a character in a sex romp fantasy, likes to flirt with whoever she can and go around in short skirts with no underwear (she's allergic, naturally). This behavior makes Matteo crazy with suspicion and jealousy. But, for her, it's all in good fun. Like most of Brass's female leads, she is frivolous, lighthearted, and sexy. The rest of us just take things too seriously.

So, this is all usual sex farce stuff thus far. Matteo, however, soon comes to realize, through a series of episodes (of course), that his jealousy really turns him on, so long as he's suspicious. And we discover, of course, that Carla really is fooling around with her female real estate agent, a stud at a party, a camera shop owner, a cute classmate, a masseur, et cetera! She's pretty okay with meaningless sex. But she still loves him madly. It's complicated. The decide the best idea is for her to promise to lie to him. Thus, she can continue fooling around, and he can stay a little bit jealous, and their sex life will be extraordinary.

Of course, it's easy to see where their plan might run into problems in the real world; or maybe not. I'm not going to tub-thump for cheating here! One thing I like about Tinto Brass though is that, unlike most dirty filmmakers, you get the feeling that he really adores women outside of his fantasy version of them. He sees a power they have that society often denies. I often see these young women around Hamilton who look so worn out and dejected, dressed so shabby and dumpy, and walking around with these angry-looking lugs; and I think, "If they only knew how sexy they really are, their boyfriends would be in real trouble!" Oh, but it would be fun though!


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