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  Devil in the Flesh, The Schoolboy Crush
Year: 1986
Director: Marco Bellocchio
Stars: Maruschka Detmers, Federico Pitzalis, Anita Laurenzi, Alberto Di Stasio, Riccardo De Torrebruna, Catherine Diamant, Anna Orso, Lidia Broccolino, Stefano Abbati, Claudio Bottosso
Genre: Drama, Sex, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Andrea (Federico Pitzalis) is an eighteen-year-old schoolboy who one day is sitting in a less than exciting class when they hear a woman yelling, "Fuck off!" from a nearby roof. Everyone in the class rushes over to the open windows to see the woman apparently contemplating suicide by throwing herself off to the street below. As witnesses persuade her to see sense and venture inside instead of ending it all, Andrea is struck by the beauty of another young woman, Giulia (Marushcka Detmers) watching across the courtyard, so much so that he skips school to follow her...

The Devil in the Flesh, or Il Diavolo in Corpo as it was called in its native land, was ostensibly an adaptation of the sensational French novel by Raymond Radiguet, who famously died aged twenty soon after writing it. The most celebrated adaptation had been the 1947 one, extensively banned or cut as it was, but here director Marco Bellocchio updated it from World War One to the era of the Red Brigade terrorist activities in Italy. Presumably the reason for this was to make it feel more relevant to eighties Europe, but after watching it you may be at a loss for any other explanations.

Enigma is the order of the day here, with Bellocchio and his co-writers well nigh determined not to tell the audience anything more than that which will set them onto the next scene. Actually, what is most likely to keep them watching is the promise of further sex scenes and nudity, as that's what the film became best recalled for. The object of Andrea's obsession turns out to be the fiancée of a terrorist currently on trial which she attends dutifully, but precisely how loyal she is to her partner is open to doubt.

This is mainly because she hops into bed with the younger man without remorse, more concerned with keeping him a secret from her future mother-in-law, Mrs Pulcini (Anita Laurenzi), who has given her an apartment to stay in while the trial drags on. Giulia likes a laugh, as evidenced by her frequent chortling away in the presence of Andrea, but she is a troubled soul too, or so we're led to believe as she's also the patient of her lover's psychiatrist father, and therefore may well be mad, bad and dangerous to know.

The most famous bit of The Devil in the Flesh is one of those sex scenes, where the frequently disrobing Detmers went above and beyond the call of actress-ly duty by performing oral sex on her charisma-free co-star. This might have been erotic if ten minutes before Giulia hadn't been threatening to cut off his member with a pair of scissors while he slept, so you end up worrying about those flashing teeth of hers. Otherwise, the film is so oblique around its characters' true feelings that it's obscure to the point of meaninglessness, with so many unanswered questions that the novelty of the nudity apart, there's little point in watching it expecting narrative satisfaction. Music by Carlo Crivelli.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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