In the mid 90's Valeria Marini was the erotic dream of millions of Italians: the Roman soubrette had risen to prominence as a prima donna in the programs of Bagaglino and it had achieved stratospheric television success. Blonde, with curvy shapes and on the crest of the wave, enough to attract the attention of Bigas Luna, director who has always understood beauty having worked in his career with fascinating actresses both his compatriots and Italians - among which we mention Francesca Neri for The Ages of Lulù (1990) and Anna Galiena in Ham, ham (1992).
Of course, the physical aspect is not enough if not supported by adequate acting skills, and the Marini had proven not to be properly suited for this purpose both on the small screen in the miniseries Little sister and the prince of the dream, directed by Lamberto Bava, who on the great with short appearances in not exactly memorable films like Roaring throats (1992) e Tanned 2 - One year later (1993).
Bambola therefore represented a potential breakthrough of his film career, given the fame of the late Catalan filmmaker - who won the Silver Lion in Venice a few years before - and the opportunity to make himself known by an international audience. But as we all know, the results are not what we hoped for and on the occasion of the re-presentation on TV (tonight Thursday 26 November at 22.55 on CINE34) let's go back to its troubled history.
A sick love
Bambola is an attractive country girl, grew up in the Lidi di Comacchio where she runs a pizzeria together with her gruff mother Greta and her homosexual brother Flavio.
When the head of the family dies, the two young people find financial help from Ugo, a friend of Flavio who is in love with Bambola.
One day, while they are spending hours of partying at an aquapark, the protagonist flirts fiercely with the handsome Septimius, an event that causes Ugo's jealousy and triggers a fight between the two. The second has the worst and loses his life, with Septimius being sentenced and incarcerated.
During one of the visits to the beloved behind bars, Doll is noticed by the rude convict Furio that from that moment on he will become obsessed with it. A feeling that will eventually lead the young woman into an abyss of passion and violence.
Without art or part
November 25, 2020 was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Bambola, however, is undoubtedly not a suitable film for this occasion.
The main character is in fact the victim and accomplice of a relationship based on submission, which takes more and more field with the passing of the minutes until a second half in which this dynamic reaches its peak of depravity.
Criticized at its release also for the presence of extreme sequences, among the most targeted the one that sees an eel at the center of the scene, the film actually seems to settle progressively on an increasingly stale and repetitive leitmotif, capable of treading the hand to become the subject of controversy - for the series "for better or for worse, just talk about it".
A trick not new in the career of Bigas Luna, elsewhere a refined artist as in Fellini's La teta y la luna (1994) but also the author of freely scandalous works such as the aforementioned The ages of Lulu.
The taste for excess appeared already in the prologue, where an icon of the Seventh Art such as Anita Ekberg was being wasted in an almost derisive role and certainly not mindful of the past charm.
And in the same way, the insertion of a homosexual subplot is a little credible artifice of script, capable of bringing the events towards the improbable ending.
The short jolts of a prison-movie then expire in a docile and simplistic caricature, between grotesque beatings within the prison walls and the classic "boss of bosses" who commands on the right and is missing beyond all logic, not even Al Capone.
E the reckoning that permeates the final stages, with escapes among the fields and boats set on fire, it is devoid of any suitable tension, transforming the potential drama of the facts into a funny and hilarious fair of horrors.
Presented at the Venice Film Festival amid boos and clamor, Bambola remains a film full of sculpted scenes and most will remember the one in which Valeria Marini sits astride a huge mortadella: this was recently honored by rapper Myss Keta in a music video.
The problem with the ninety minutes of viewing is that, in addition to the banal prudery, it lacks both a noteworthy secondary context and the necessary thematic eroticism: the passages with a sexual background, with nudes never totally integral, they are in fact as brutal and carnal as the protagonists themselves and are more ridiculous than actually exciting.
A limit given by the certainly not memorable interpretations of the cast, and it is strange to think that in the role of villain-master instead of the anonymous Jorge Perugorría there should have been none other than Javier Bardem, who had previously collaborated with Luna.
The future Oscar winner must probably have smelled the quality of the project by declining the offer.
Dull and cold performances, starting with the national Valeriona who mumbles for most of the minutes uninspired dialogues and is constantly tossed from side to side, at the mercy of what happens around her, never as ready as her alter-ego to unleash the personality necessary for such a passionate intrigue.
Failures and regrets
It is no coincidence that the showgirl herself had gods heavy contrasts with the producer Marco Poccioni, demanding the cutting of the three most extreme sequences so that it was possible to obtain a ban on minors under 14: the request was rejected, with the exit then reserved for an audience of adults only.
And that she felt betrayed by the director, as this statement of the times relating to the final seconds testifies: "I felt offended as a debut and fragile actress, because I didn't know all the tricks of filming, and as a woman, because humanity was taken away from me.
I do not moralize, I am not opposed to the nude in erotic scenes, but in that context my nudity is completely free. I felt hurt, humiliated. I'm sure the viewer will feel uncomfortable too because the scene is neither funny nor transgressive, it's just ugly.
I asked him please, I begged him to change it, but there was nothing to be done: and I cannot forgive him."
To then continue "I am a great fan of his, I have seen all of his films, I know very well that his cinema is violent, that he finds his balance in excesses.
It was I who looked for him, because I wanted to work with him. But he wasn't fair to me, he took advantage of my confusion, of my fears, to use me."
It is difficult to say how much this situation influenced during the filming on the set, certain that on balance this was perhaps a marriage that had not been done, given the deleterious responses for all the parties involved. But this is also exactly how sculptures are born.