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  Seduction of Mimi, The Left, Right, Left, Right
Year: 1972
Director: Lina Wertmüller
Stars: Giancarlo Giannini, Mariangela Melato, Turi Ferro, Agostina Belli, Luigi Diberti, Elena Fiore, Tuccio Musumeci, Ignazio Papalardo, Gianfranco Barra, Livia Giampalmo
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Carmelo Mardocheo (Giancarlo Giannini), or Mimi to his friends and family, considers himself a socialist, so when the local elections in Sicily where he lives are held he rejects the local right wing candidate, knowing that the Mafia are controlling him. Mimi stays with his family and wife, but she is frigid and won't sleep with him so they can start a family of their own, but this problem is overlooked when something more serious arises: the elections weren't the secret ballot Mimi thought they were, and his bosses, who like the politicians are in the pocket of the crime lords, sack him. Frustrated, he goes to work in Turin where he meets someone who will change his life - but it looks as if he has to change anyway...

Writer and director Lina Wertmüller's first big international hit was Mimì Metallurgico Ferito Nell'onore, or The Seduction of Mimi as it was known in English, and set the stage for a lot of very favourable reaction to her films throughout the nineteen-seventies. Now, her work doesn't have the impact it once did and outside of Italy she is near forgotten, but it's interesting to go back to her work of her heyday and see what the fuss was about. Here, it's a politically charged sex comedy (you may have preferred to see a sexually charged political comedy) that tends to forget what makes it interesting in the first place about halfway through.

Mimi gets a job on a building site in Turin, but organised crime, which is inextricable from daily life it seems, make sure none of the workers are part of any unions or indeed have any rights at all. This leads to one of Mimi's workmates taking a tumble off the top of some scaffolding and dying, and he goes along with the body only to discover to his horror that it's not being taken to the man's wife, but to be dumped by the side of the motorway. When he protests, he's threatened with a gun and has to make a break for it, picked up by a passing motorist before any harm can come to him. Now he knows where he stands, and we in the audience likewise, the matter of his love life begins to take precedent.

Mimi falls for former Trotskyite anarchist Fiorella (Mariangela Melato, teaming with Giannini to make Wertmüller's most enduring screen couple) who not only awakens his political side even further, but gives him a baby as well. However, before long Mimi's new boss sends him back to Sicily where he has to juggle a mistress and wife, and it's here the social points give way to broad farce and a distinct lessening of the thematic dynamic. Before, there was something pleasingly sinister about the way the corrupt powers that be would emerge, identified by the pattern of moles on their faces (like The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch) as part of the same extended Mafia family running everything. But after that, the story is bogged down in Mimi's cuckolding and subsequent revenge, involving a gruesome scene where he beds the unlovely wife of his wife's lover (her huge arse grotesquely fills the screen for cheap laughs). By the end, any of his convictions have been given up, a deeply cynical conclusion. Music by Piero Piccioni.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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