La vacanza (1971) Poster

(1971)

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4/10
VACATION (Tinto Brass, 1971) **
Bunuel197619 February 2010
Clearly not having learned my lesson recently with Tinto Brass' head-scratching THE HOWL (1970), I decided to try my luck again with another film of his from the same period and along the same lines (and which I acquired from the same source). For some reason, I was led to believe that this was going to be a medieval fable but that illusion was soon dispelled from the get-go with the appearance of a limo coming to pick up mental patient Vanessa Redgrave on her way to the titular 'event'. Forty years on, it is hard to fathom what the appeal of these free-wheeling, politically-orientated, socially-conscious and sexually-aware diatribes (of which there were several from all over Europe) ever was; in this case, one would hope that Franco Nero, Vanessa and Corin Redgrave at least enjoyed some good grass while making it because, the knowledge that they agreed to do it while in the full possession of their cognitive faculties, would certainly reflect unfavorably on their taste in choice of material! Having said that, VACATION is, if at all possible, even more impenetrable than THE HOWL...but the charismatic presence of the trio of actors somehow makes the entire ungodly mixture ever so slightly more palatable. Upon arriving home from the clinic, Redgrave (who reads the lines herself in broken Italian) meets up with her bizarre family – who is prone to making godawful animal noises at table and pelt the girl with everything that comes handy. Shown the door, she embarks on a road trip which sees her encounter bird-watching tramp Nero and bicycling English gentleman Corin (also mouthing his own dialogue, I did not instantly recognize him made up as he was with glasses and hat) who somehow presides over a rambling group of grotesque whores. In the midst of all this, Redgrave also takes to narrate to Nero and enact that elusive (and utterly pointless) medieval fable, gets jailed and interrogated by poor Leopoldo Trieste and, in perhaps the film's highpoint, witnesses at the climax {sic} the whores' 'orgasmic' striking while sitting at their weaving machines in a factory!! For what it is worth, the blind madam and Nero both get shot (by the elite gentry and the Police respectively), some nudity is on display (given Brass' involvement that was inevitable), Vanessa also gets to plaintively sing a couple of songs in Italian (with THE HOWL's Gigi Proietti lending his vocals to the closing track)...but who really cares? The print I watched was sourced from an old Italian VHS that sported overly soft visuals and a terminally hiss-laden soundtrack that made the film that much of a chore to sit through. Ultimately, the biggest mystery surrounding this film (more than any grandiose satirical-surreal concept) is how it managed to get named "Best Italian Film" at the Venice Film Festival (during an enigmatic 12-year period in which no official prizes were awarded by the Biennale).
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