Top critical review
Treatment, Tone and Tempo All Wrong
on 19 November 2016
I didn't like the treatment of the story, the tone, or the tempo of this film. The first two thirds of the film really annoyed me. I thought I was watching an Italian version of a Carry On film, only more absurd, even cruder, and even more unfunny. Scenes in which Monica Bellucci is walking through the crowded town square with all the men openly drooling over over her and making lewd remarks struck me as not just implausible but cartoon-like. Of course men in real life feel such things but they generally also feel shame at objectifying a woman, so they try and conceal their basest instincts and behave properly.
There was a good story at the heart of this film but the director failed to interest me in either the teenage protagonist or the Monica Bellucci character. It could have been an interesting exploration of both their situations but it wasn't. There were ridiculous, distracting characters like the lawyer or the boy's father who, even by Italian standards, were over the top. I kept asking myself, "Am I supposed to be laughing at this?"
There was a brief scene when the boy, scrapping with a fellow youth, imagines himself as a gladiator in the Colosseum pinning down his opponent and looking up to Monica Bellucci, as Caesar's wife, who gives him the thumbs down. That was a good scene but there were too few such scenes and the cinematic expression of a theme like awakening sexuality requires sustained visual imagination on the part of a film-maker.
It got a bit better towards the end when there was a let-up in the breakneck pace, serious themes were beginning to be addressed seriously, and the actors at last had an opportunity to do some real acting and convey some genuine feeling to the viewer. But it was too late by then.