Synopsis: For the legendary director of Zombie, The Beyond, and Perversion Story, it was perhaps the most shocking film of his entire career: A blasphemous yet acclaimed erotic comedy bursting with depraved priests, luscious nuns and a possessed politician with a compulsion for perversion. Laura Antonelli (The Divine Nymph), Agostina Belli (The Fifth Cord), Lando Buzzanca (When Women Had Tails), Anita Strindberg (A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin) and Lionel Stander (Cul-De-Sac) star in the surreal ’70s flesh-fest that could only come from the immoral imagination of Lucio Fulci!
eyelights: its mixture of politics, religion, sex and comedy. the sexy ladies. the sexy surrealistic daydream sequence.
eyesores: the mildly cartoonish performances.
“And they say that Italy is a Republic founded on work. You know what I think it’s founded on? On ass.”
I’m no great fan of cult director Lucio Fulci. While he has his legions of devotees, the few films of his that I’ve seen (‘Conquest’, ‘E tu vivrai nel terrore – L’aldilà‘, ‘Zombi 2’) have left me terrifically unimpressed. Although he has over four dozen pictures to his name, and one could easily assume that I simply picked the wrong ones, two of the three are considered classics of his.
I just don’t get it.
But, when I saw ‘All’onorevole piacciono le donne’ for sale at a now-defunct local indie video store, I was intrigued; while Fulci is mostly known for his horror films (he has acquired a reputation as the “Godfather of Gore”), this was an erotic comedy. I’ve seen a few of these sexy European comedies, and I quite like the genre, even if the quality is usually relatively low. So I picked it up.
And I’m really glad that I did.
While it’s been packaged and marketed here as something “shocking”, “sacrilegious” and even “surreal”, it’s mostly a fairly straight-forward comedy – albeit a sexy one: It follows an Italian Senator in the running to be the next President who finds his years of sexual repression suddenly bursting at his seams – on the eve of his victory. Suddenly, uncontrollably, he begins to grope women.
Anyone in his path is at risk when he gets even remotely turned on. That is, anyone whose butt is gropable, as he’s become particularly obsessed with behinds (naturalmente!). But he feels that he has to reel in this compulsion (especially now that he’s been caught and is being blackmailed!) and, at the urging of a friend, discretely interns himself in a monastery for psychiatric treatment.
Except that the monastery houses a dozen nuns, as general help. Before he can even begin his treatment, his blackouts get him into trouble. But it’s the least of his worries, because, in the meantime, political opponents, Church officials, mafia leaders and even the police are all spying on him (or on each other spying on him!) and their various misunderstandings are creating conflict.
Consequently, a coup d’état is in the offing.
What makes ‘All’onorevole piacciono le donne’ so much fun is how everything converges. It’s a farce without being too overt about it. Yes, the performances are comedic, not dry, ones, but the situations never devolve into slapstick or outrageous farce material; the humour is more about the absurdity of the behaviours and situations. It also comes from our protagonist’s erotic dreams.
Which, it must be noted, are pure visual feasts.
While the picture uses sexual desire as a catalyst for its humour, it’s also sexy at times, with the Senator’s butt fetish drawing him to all sorts of lovely women. Thankfully, the picture isn’t so exploitative that all the women are seen in various stages of undress; mostly, the nudity serves the story and is moderate. But what loveliness there is to be found in that moderation. Yum.
The comedy and sexiness is all balanced out by the more serious aspects of the picture, which is all socio-political, with discussions of social mores in modern Italy, backroom politics, back stabbings, …etc. Honestly, I found that aspect quite engrossing in a way that most sex comedies aren’t, as it gave the picture a little more depth; it doesn’t just exist to titillate its audience.
I wouldn’t say that ‘All’onorevole piacciono le donne’ is brilliant filmmaking, but it’s certainly much better than its peers – and than I ever had anticipated. It’s better balanced and it’s a lot of fun all around. Sure, it’s silly, but not entirely. And it makes me wonder if maybe I’d underestimated Lucio Fulci – because, if he was able to make a quality sex farce like this, then maybe there’s more.
I may have to dig deeper.
Date of viewing: January 11, 2016