Synopsis

A sex comedy about a young widow, Mimi who discovers that her recently deceased husband, Franco kept a secret apartment for his kinky desires. Frustrated that he did not explore his sexual fantasies with his wife, she embarks on a quest to understand perversion and sexuality. She uses her late husband's apartment to seduce various men, each time learning more about the depths of human deprivation, as well as the extent of the sexual double standard for women. Finally, she meets the man who shares himself fully with her, appreciates her sexual daring and accepts her for whoever she is.

Director

Pasquale Festa Campanile

Cast

Catherine Spaak
as Margherita
Jean-Louis Trintignant
as Dr. Carlo De Marchi
Gigi Proietti
as Sandro Maldini
Luigi Pistilli
as Otto Frank
Nora Ricci
as Madre di Mimmi

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by acerf 9 /10

Much ado about M-U-C-H

This is a charming, saucy and insanely amusing little film, featuring Catherine Spaak and assorted body doubles in such generous amounts of body, only a hater of physical beauty won't be charmed. Possibly to death.

Note; whatever you do, buy the VHS. Not only is the DVD a bust – no pun, please, but many of Ms. Spaak's more revealing and best, (and I MEAN revealing) moments, have been edited out. (Le recul, le chéri de Catherine ?) These included a nice shot for posterity, of Cat's um, posterior as well as a – well full-frontal surprise this delectable Belgian hottie plays on a school teacher. Not to mention that color separation and poor film stock issues are actually exacerbated on the DVD. There is really nothing to recommend it- except that most won't watch VHS any more. (The DVD does have a few cute outtakes, but my God, we're talking a gorgeous woman, like no other, who plays horsie at great length in the film; surely THAT footage should have been the source of any outtakes.)

The film and its incessantly catchy theme commenced … and we find our girl Spaak at her husband's funeral. Far from remorseful, Spaak's 'Mimi' says of his death, she feels 'nothing.' But soon, SOON, dear viewer, she'll feel SOMETHING and in a big way and often!

While as fluffy as a Roman Cloud in May, this movie is cited for having a few underlying themes of the 'eat drink and be merry for tomorrow…,' as well as 'know thy woman or else' type. Perhaps, perhaps not. Doesn't matter. The film is hysterical and very much like the music of the Smiths – if anyone else tried this stuff, it would be a disaster; in their capable hands, a delight. … Even if Rome has few clouds of any kind in May …

Freed from a husband for whom sexually, Mimi never responded, she proceeds to go on a tear, of – if memory serves, 8 count em' eight, men in a row, not to mention an apparent orgy where God knows what the score may have been.

It happens that Spaak's deceased had a play pen in Rome, a hideaway where the latter took his gals, including Spaak's best friend. Spaak learns of this piede e terre through her attorney whom she then beds. She then goes through the roll call: dentist, tennis pro, john, (a guy who thinks she's a prostitute) sadist, (truly regrettable, but very much of the times and a reminder one hopes, of what's NOT acceptable any longer), plumber, (not just 'any plumber' but in fact, her maid's husband) and finally, doctor. Not to mention whatever is going on in the orgy scene, which is actually another film; the orgy occurs in a movie that Catherine plays to the doctor to try and dissuade him from proposing marriage.

Nothing doing. This doctor is no fool. He hangs in there and is not put off by her scandalous behavior. Even excites him within the context of, 'family life.'

Amusingly, from the earliest scenes, Mimi is shown boning up on various abnormal sexuality tomes. … One of which suggests that Aristotle became aroused through the act of playing horse, or as translated from Italian, 'Ride a cock horse.' Therein lies the films resolution. Owing to a sprained ankle recently suffered, Mimi asks the doctor to carry her. A few unforgettable scenes later and the two are saying how boring their wedding was and Spaak proceeds to ride her new beau into a boundless matrimonial bliss. Obviously, this cat catered to her thing, which of course resolved all her long-held inhibitions, etc. You get it.

With this flick, Ridley Scott directed a wonderful, charming witty and above all, genuinely hilarious film, if very much, of its time. Me thinks Catherine Spaak's role could not have been performed by any other, as it is her ability as a comedienne and of course her incredible (and highly unusual) beauty - and other bits - that make this so special. Why, that gal Spaak has more 'it' than the top leading ladies of today, rolled together! As to WHY Ridley Scott used such terrible film stock, you'd have to ask him.

A MUST SEE for laughs and when you just need a shot of pure unadulterated sexuality, the real deal, not some creature from a West Hollywood surgeon who left some poor girl's best parts on the cutting room floor.

Summer 2004 *Also know as La Matriarca.

Reviewed by lazarillo N/A

Nostalgic 60's "Eurotica"

A pampered young widow (Catherine Spaak) discovers that her deceased husband was a pervert after finding his secret penthouse and stash of stag films (which strangely seem to be professionally shot and edited). She decides to get post-humous revenge on him by embarking on a series of perverse sexual escapades of her own. She buys a copy of Freud's "Psychpathis Sexualis" (I don't know why she doesn't start with "The Joy of Sex" or something and work her way up) and experiments with an number of strange, but relatively harmless, perversions before finding true love with her chiropractor (Jean Sorel).

Some may find this movie pretty slow and lacking in both sex and nudity. It has some really ridiculous dialogue (or rather monologue--as the lead seems to constantly talk to herself in voice-over or out loud). It seems pretty innocent by today's standards, but it also has startlingly cavalier attitude toward sexual promiscuity. And some of the passages the heroine reads in voice-over from her book (such as the account of a sexual sadist who bites off his partner's nose during sex) are quite jarring compared to the silly and much more wholesome things she actually does. Still I liked this film for it's odd combination of sex and the 60's-era nostalgia you feel watching it today. Catherine Spaak is unbelievably cute and naturally sexy in a way that woman just aren't anymore in the modern world of breast implants and 24-hour-a-day fitness centers. The final image of her nearly naked and in sexual ecstasy as she (literally) rides her boyfriend around the penthouse apartment is very memorable.

Pasquale Campanile was also a pretty damn good director who years later would helm the memorable giallo "Hitchhike". He and his fellow countryman Massimo "Venus in Furs" Dallamano actually might have done "Eurotica" better than more famous European directors like Jesus Franco, Jean Rollins, and Jose Larraz, but they are much less internationally renowned today, probably because their work never crossed into the horror and fantasy genres. It's very worthy stuff, nevertheless--seek it out.

Reviewed by daneldorado 9 /10

WHAT were they looking at?

Having read all the user comments regarding "La Matriarca" (1968), I am dumbfounded that none of the readers -- NOT ONE -- cared to mention what I consider its KEY SCENE. There have been six (6) user comments for this film before mine, and all of them discuss the sexual kinks in it; certainly there are plenty of those. But nobody seems to want to talk about the cathartic scene, where Jean Louis Trintignant puts Mimi (Catherine Spaak) over his knee and spanks her as if she were a naughty little girl.

That spanking is purgative for Mimi. It releases her from her sexual inhibitions and her desire to dominate men as she feels she was dominated by her late husband. She and Dr. DeMarchi (Trintignant) realize their love for each other, and they marry. Her sexual adventurism is a thing of the past, as they settle down together.

But all of the user comments were written in the 21st century, and were no doubt influenced by the prevailing feminist moral code. It is now considered ungentlemanly to spank a grown woman, in spite of the fact that for hundreds of years before the current era, spankings were common and generally accepted by the public. A large number of mainstream films attest to that sensibility.

At any rate, "La Matriarca" (known in the U.S. as "The Libertine") gives us a delicious show of what happens when a young and beautiful woman becomes a widow and then discovers that her late husband had kept a love nest where he spent time with other women and unleashed his sadistic instincts.

The home movies she finds in that apartment -- where all the walls and ceilings are made of mirrors -- show women being whipped, punched, beaten, and subjected to numerous unimaginable humiliations. NONE of those humiliations, however, include spanking. That would be too tame.

But not too tame for Dr. DeMarchi, as he realizes that Mimi -- whom he has grown to love -- needs to be purged of the bitterness that is poisoning her life. He proposes marriage to Mimi, but she doesn't say yes and she doesn't say no; to help her make up her mind, he puts her over his knee and spanks her. As I said at the outset, that is the key scene of this film. It should not be ignored in future reviews.

By the way: To disabuse you of any thoughts that I might be wrong about considering the spanking as "the key scene," consider buying the DVD. And notice the still that appears repeatedly, every time you try to change the disc features. Yep, it shows Mimi getting spanked. Apparently the disc producers consider that the "key scene" too.

Dan Navarro ([email protected])

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