Not since the Terence Stamp character in Pasolini's classic film Theorem has one handsome young man caused such havoc on a group of people. That it might end in tears was signalled early on by use of some passages of what sounded like Mahler.
Two couples go to the seaside to get away. One couple is Matteo, a handsome and (I suspect) financially successful psychiatrist who has trouble relaxing, and his wife Francesca. The other couple - I think the husband is the brother of Matteo - include the mother of the eponymous David, a very handsome man who travels the world.
The film shows the foursome trying to relax. Some are fidgety and others not - this makes for tension at the dining table. Even the choices of music playing on the sound system cause clashes (the tracks chosen are very apposite to the different personalities), Into this haven of intended (but not actual) tranquillity comes David. Matteo is thunderstruck by the youth, his nephew, whom he had not seen for 5 years or so and who now resembles a Greek god turning all heads who see him. When he stands in the moonlight in the shallows of the sea, with water dripping from his body, he is the stuff of which wet dreams are made.
There are echoes of the Orpheus legend. But here there's a sexual tension as Matteo feels drawn to follow David to see where he goes for several hours away from the house. Matteo has immense difficulty in restraining himself. Meanwhile his marriage to Francesca is made tense by his intellectualism which grates on her more pleasure-seeking nature.
Interspersed with this scene of bubbling sexual tension are scenes showing Matteo and one of his patients - who at first comes across as a mature, deeply unsympathetic and selfish woman who does not understand why others so dislike her. A scene occurs where Matteo suddenly glimpses her away from his psychiatrist's couch and he immediately grasps the cause of her apparent self-centredness. I won't reveal what that is but he responds by becoming far more sympathetic to her and uses her forename for the first time.
Back at the villa however matters move to the inevitable climax. David's mother senses the attraction Matteo feels for David and starts to watch for them together. Again I will not reveal the outcome, but it has shades of Phaedra and, in a way, Cocteau's Orphee. David's Birthday, planned as a celebration prior to his leaving once again, turns into a sombre occasion.
I found the film confusing at times because both Matteo and another male character(called, I think, Leonsrdo, who is - I understood - a widower who lost his wife mysteriously) wore similar scruffy beards. The two males in the villa's foursome and Leonardo all seem a little similar and I had difficulty telling them apart; but that may be because I didn't watch the entire film in one sitting. The playing of Matteo, of Francesca and of David's mother is very fine; that of David is not required to be especially good acting but he is more than a very handsome body and face, he can show some subtlety in his responses to Matteo when the latter is in sight and not observing him from behind bushes.
The film is not a masterpiece but it captures the tensions of sexual repression, in their various ways, very well.