Marguerite Gautier (Daniele Gaubert) was a heroin addict…and is still using casually when she parties. The reason I start off by mentioning this is to establish her situation, which is that in the past, she was being treated for her addiction at a facility during the time that the daughter of a Duke was being treated for her addiction. The Duke’s daughter died, and in his grief, he latched on to Marguerite and treated her like his lost daughter. He allowed her to live in his home, gave her money, the use of his yacht, etc…. Marguerite took full advantage of the situation. She had wild parties where people would get high, dance all night and have sex that was wild, reckless and free. She herself had been with many men, and yet had never felt love for any of them.
Enter Armand Duval (Nino Castelnuovo). His family is the second richest in Europe, and yet he for some reason, he only gets a small amount a month to live on. I say "for some reason", because I was rather confused by the situation, and I didn’t really get what the whole deal was with that. Regardless, he’s come to Rome to meet up with his father and do some work for the family business. Upon his arrival, he meets up with his best friend Gastion (Roberto Biascco), who immediately begins to try to hook him up with a prime member of female society. Many women are on display at the opera that night, but only one catches Armand’s eye, and that’s Marguerite. They spend the rest of the film having a tumultuous affair, and after Marguerite finally finds true love, it’s torn from her by his father, who didn’t approve of their relationship, and after meeting privately with her, he puts an end to it by convincing her that by staying with him, she’d be ruining his life and career. It tore her soul apart, but she finally decided to leave him, for what she thought was his sake. Unfortunately, she ends up going back to a rival guy and getting heavily back into her partying and heroin use. Would the two ever be able to reclaim the love they once shared, or is it too late? You’ll have to see the film to find out.
Radley Metzger is apparently well known for making erotic films. I however had never heard of him or any of his films before this one was sent to me to review. It’s not the type of a film I’d normally sit down to watch, not because it’s erotic and I’m a prude, but because I find "erotic" films to be a bore. If I wanted to watch people having sex, I’d watch a porn film, and if I wanted to watch people having lots of drama in their relationships, I’d watch a soap opera. Now, that said, I have to say that this actually wasn’t really that bad of a film. The story and the troubles they endured in trying to be together got rather redundant, the worthless rich snobs that surrounded them were rather pathetic and the sex scenes were little more than a long, drawn out bore with very little in the line of "erotic" value, I still managed to actually enjoy the film on a certain level. I know…it surprised me too, but I did. It particularly surprised me because there’s really no one in this film to care about at all except for maybe Armand, and even he’s so pathetic at times that you just want to slap him and tel him to man up.
There’s one thing in particular I did like about this film though, and that was some of the amazing fashion. There were some incredible outfits on display, including one outfit worn by Marguerite at a party, that covered her, yet had everything on display at the same time. I know that’s a rather silly thing to like about what’s supposed to be an erotic film that titilates the senses, yet looking back on it, that’s the one thing that really struck me.
The girl who played Marguerite, Daniele Gaubert, sadly died of cancer at the age of 44 in 1987. You watch her on the screen, and she’s so beautiful and full of life. I was shocked when I found out, but cancer doesn’t discriminate. It takes the young and the beautiful just as easily as it takes the old and the homely. If nothing else came from my seeing this film, finding this out made me appreciate my health and what I have in life.
As for the film itself, it’s a bore, yet there’s something esoteric about the story that makes it worth watching. I couldn’t even tell you what it is, but I’d suggest watching this film in the middle of the night, as it’s just that type of a film. That’s when you’ll get the most out of it. Some movies are best viewed on a weeknight, some are better seen on a weekend afternoon. This one is best viewed in the middle of the night. It won’t feel right, nor will you be able to get as much out of it if you watch it at any other time. I know that’s a rather strange thing to say in a review, but it’s the truth. While I have no real desire to rush out to see any of Radley Metzger’s other films, I really don’t hate him for the time I spent watching this one.
This release comes from Cult Epics, and is the most complete version of the film available. It contains 12 extra minutes additional scenes, completed by the director. It also boasts a newly restored, high definition transfer. For special features, we have a 30 minute "on the set" featurette with Daniele Gaubert, Nino Castelnuovo and Radley Metzger, deleted scenes, a comparison of the pre-restored footage and what it looked like after restoration, an audio commentary track with Radley Metzger and Michael Bowen, and trailers for the film. The release itself is great, and though I really can’t put my finger on why, I’d say it’s definitely worth seeing…at least once.
This film is available on blu-ray and DVD. If you’d like to find out more about this release, or to pick up a copy for yourself, you can find it’s listing on the Cult Epics website at http://www.cultepics.com.