Synopsis: Tinto Brass’ latest Monamour is the love-story of a Venetian girl and a Frenchman in the beautiful city of Mantua. Dario, her husband is too busy to notice his wives sexual drifting, when her adultery “born out of neglect and frustration” starts on the day she meets a tall, dark stranger in a museum. An intoxicating mix of lies, betrayal and fantasy follows Marta into her personal diary where every emotion and passion is recorded. Starring Anna Jimskaia and Max Parodi (Cheeky!), along a line of stars of Tinto’s previous erotic films.
eyelights: its naughty eye candy. its playfulness.
eyesores: its rudimentary plot. its b-movie quality. its male-female dynamics.
“The satyr’s crossroads: the Apostles’ road to Gomorrah or the unhallowed alleyway to Sodom?”
The story is as old as time itself: Marta has been married for only six month and already Dario, her spouse, no longer showers her with attention the way that he used to. In fact, though they have intercourse, she hasn’t had an orgasm from their lovemaking since their wedding night.
She’s worried that she no longer interests Dario.
Then, one day, she meets Leon, a French artist who also happens to be visiting Mantua.
And he makes her feel that spark again.
I really liked ‘Monamour’. Though it should be as easily dismissed as many pictures of its ilk, somehow Tinto Brass’ 2005 effort lit a fire in me that few other erotic films do. From what I’ve read, it’s considered one of his weaker efforts, and yet it completely fogged up my mind – despite its b-movie quality.
I surmise that the answer lies, not in the caliber of the cast, which is attractive and competent, nor in the sex itself, which is neither especially sexy or explicit. I think that it lies in Brass’ fetishistic staging, obsessed as he is with bottoms – and curves of all kinds. He simply speaks my language.
The absurd lengths that Brass goes to to show off lead actress Anna Jimskaia’s posterior (or anyone else’s really, including some men) is beyond reason – to such a degree that it should elicit laughs. It’s completely deliberate, with Jimskaia always bending over at the waist instead of at her knees.
Unless she’s on them, naturellement.
Brass also had no qualms and felt no shame showing naughty bits, both male and female – though, since our main character is Marta, we see far more of her than anyone else. I was surprised at the extent that Brass and his cast went to; I was expecting the film to be slightly more subdued and subtle.
The picture consists solely of one sexy scene strung together after the other, whether it’s Marta being naughty in the present, in the past (as she waxes nostalgic), or in her fantasies. It’s clear that Brass was only barely interested in plot and character development; he wanted to titillate his audience.
In this case, it worked.
What I find interesting, having seen a handful of his films now, is that they always focus on a female protagonist, and it always deals with sexuality from a female perspective, giving them a sexual freedom and sexual needs that are typically men’s domain. It serves his purposes, but it’s unusual.
Naturally, as it’s all from a male gaze perspective, it doesn’t have the legitimacy that it would if it had been presented by a female filmmaker, who likely would have had a less artificial and lewd approach. But I still like that Marta is entirely in control of her sexuality and makes the choices she wants/needs.
What I don’t like are the relationships between men and women, which are archaic: though Marta (and her friend Silvia) are sexually emancipated, the men still lord over them sometimes, as is the case with Leon when they first meet; he has no qualms grabbing her and making demands even though they’re strangers.
If the film hadn’t been conceived as pure fantasy, it would have been not just farcical but also deeply offensive; this is a mentality that is rooted in pre-modern feminism, when women were more likely to be considered the property of men, for their pleasure. That really doesn’t sit well with me.
But ‘Monamour’ is as much a fantasy as ‘Emmanuelle‘ or ‘L’histoire d’O‘ were. Or any porn, really. Except that this isn’t pornographic; it’s not nearly as explicit, plus it has an aesthetic quality that borders on the artistic. Brass doesn’t just have an eye for the female form, he has a photographer’s eye.
It doesn’t mean that the picture has many redeemable qualities, though. Hardly. I suspect that most people would find it vacuous and ridiculous. To those people, I’d offer a rating of 6.75-7.0. But those of us who enjoy Brass’ fetishistic focus on derrières can’t help but get lost in the deliciousness of it all.
The bottom line is that ‘Monamour’ can be a turn-on with the right crowd.
In the end, that’s what really matters here.
Date of viewing: March 12, 2017