Join the Joie de Vivre club with the maddeningly charming Lola, as she plots to loosen up her fiancé in this exuberant comedy. Everyone is wild about Lola – even, some suspect, her own stepfather…
Long renowned for his work in documentaries and the avant-garde, director Tinto Brass is now famous as the world’s premier erotic filmmaker, turning out movies that have bridged the gender gap, earning at least as many ardent female admirers as male fans. Frivolous Lola is perhaps his most likeable film yet.
eyelights: its unrestrained love of the female form. its sexy bits. its beautiful photography.
eyesores: its lack of significant plot. the diner sequence.
“Life isn’t that great, but with an ass like that…”
‘Monella’ is a 1998 erotic comedy by cult icon Tinto Brass – he of ‘Caligula’ notoriety. I know very little about Brass, other than that he has specialized in erotic cinema since the ’70s and that he has a tendency to focus on the female form to such a degree that it appears fetishistic (as evidenced in ‘Trasgredire‘).
The same applies to ‘Monella’, which is utterly obsessed with women’s buttocks (and also features Brass’ other staples, such as pubic and armpit hair): The actresses in the picture all have extremely well-rounded butts, and Brass finds any excuse to spotlight their cheeks, as well as all that can be seen in between.
The plot, naturally, is thin and serves only as a vehicle for a series of erotic shots: Set in post-WWII Italy, it tells the story of Lola, a nubile young woman on the cusp of being married to her fiancé, Massetto, a hunky local baker. Lola is very much aware of her sexuality and loves to tease the men and women of her small town.
While Massetto seems to have no issue with Lola’s extremely flirtatious nature, mild tension arise between them because she wants to have sex but he insists on waiting until marriage. And, thus, Lola, gets into all sorts of mischief just to make him jealous, to try to provoke him into finally granting her deepest desire.
The picture begins with Lola playfully riding her bike through the small town’s courtyard, but prominently sticking her lovely behind out, allowing her skirt to lift for all to see. The men ogle her, the woman frown and the kids are amused and chase after her. She then takes her show on the road, teasing everyone.
Including the local clergy.
Let’s just say that it’s an unforgettable credits sequence to say the least. The fact is that Brass, for all his lasciviousness, is actually a great photographer and he made the most of the beautiful locations along the way, including the Italian countryside. And the same can be said for the whole picture – it’s lovely.
Brass’ lens rests carefully on his female subject’s forms as well, and it’s very clear that Brass has a love of the female form: He not only spotlights it, he seems to caress it. ‘Monella’ is basically a voyeuristic dream; one can easily get lost in the visuals and forget that the plot isn’t nearly as ample as the women.
What I love about the women in ‘Monella’ is that they’re all naturally beautiful, irrespective of age. Obviously, it would be anachronistic to feature surgically-enhanced women in a late ’40s-early ’50s setting, but one might expect a “perv” like Brass to ignore this for the sake of getting his fixations on screen.
But he certainly has no qualms sharing his obsession with Lola:
See Lola park her bike, showing us her crotch in the process. See the Priests sniff her bike seat. See Lola make out with Massetto in his bakery. See Lola masturbate on her bed with her hand from behind. She Lola take her panties off and try to seduce Massetto. See Lola get fondled by a cab driver. See Lola pee in the rain.
You get the picture.
What’s interesting about Lola is that there is no judgement lain on her, aside for a few uptight older women. Even her parents are very understanding of her nature; in fact, there’s suggestive sexuality between them (even her mom gives her a playful slap on the behind). And her father watches porn films and shoots erotic pictures.
Admittedly, ‘Monella’ is mostly for people who love looking at women, but there are are also shots of Max Parodi’s muscular form (including his butt and penis) for those who want something more. Since he has nearly all the good looks of a young Cary Elwes in ‘The Princess Bride‘, these few shots will likely satisfy its audience.
Beyond the erotica, the film is filled with absolutely lovely locations. That’s the joy of living in a country that’s been around for millennia: There’s some breathtaking architecture to shoot. The film is supplemented by a terrific soundtrack of classic tracks from the era, such as “Be Bop a Lula” and “Let’s Twist Again”.
Seriously, for the genre, it’s a well-made film. The only weak spot is a scene in a ’50s diner, during which Lola tries to make Massetto jealous by removing her panties and flirtatiously dancing with three G.I.s. The set was well-designed but looked so artificial that it stood out from all the location filming, ruining the fantasy.
Otherwise, though, I thought that ‘Monella’ was a lot of voyeuristic fun. If one is in the mood for a cavalcade of explicit butt and crotch shots, then this is the picture to see. Frankly, I never thought it would appeal to me, but it really did. In fact, the strange thing is, I’ve felt an intense urge to caress buttocks ever since.
Hmm… I wonder why.
Date of viewing: May 29, 2016