Miele di donna (1981)

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The young, naive Annie enters a hotel to spend the night – without knowing that it’s this special kind of hotel, that serves more than breakfast. Curiously she walks around and watches the maids doing their job. She’s especially fascinated of a forbidden room, where a silent, strange guy lives.

This is a superior example of a European softporno, one of the few that dares to use the form of a (kind of) drama, without pretending to have become an arthouse picture. In other words: we are not subjected to the violence, humiliation, or silly humour that is so common in 1970s sleaze or the B-movies of the video era; neither do we have to endure any attempts to bring a message across as in the naughtier arthouse pics. This is an erotic film, full stop.

Miele di donna belongs to the rare breed of films which are genuinely erotic rather than just titillating. Its strength is the semi-real and overcharged atmosphere created by the cinematography, the sets, and Ortolani’s excellent music. It is somewhat debatable whether it was a good move to cast Clio Goldsmith in the lead, as she does not manage to radiate any innocence as her character seems to demand and she generally appears a wee bit bland. However, one could argue that her character’s innocence is faked anyway, after all she is the focus of a female sexual fantasy; actually, of two female fantasies, as the bulk of the film is a dream in a story in another story. In this sense, Ms Goldsmith plays a nice faked innocence.

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