The Movie Waffler BluRay Review - <i>Frivolous Lola</i> (1998) | The Movie Waffler

BluRay Review - Frivolous Lola (1998)

Hi-def reissue of cult film-maker Tinto Brass's softcore tale.

Directed by: Tinto Brass
Starring: Anna Ammirati, Patrick Mower, Max Parodi, Susanna Martinkowa, Antonio Salines

The Movie:

Tinto Brass, the Grand-Pubebah of erotic cinema, gets a BluRay makeover in this reissue from Arrow. Famous, or more likely infamous, for his "Royal Shakespeare Company does porn", Roman epic Caligula, Frivolous Lola finds Brass in a more sanguine mood.
Set in 1950s pastoral Italy, we follow the sexual misadventures of Lola (Ammirati) (less frivolous, more randy) as she is due to marry bread maker Masetto (Parodi). Masetto wants to deflower Lola on her wedding night. Lola on the other hand is a sexual typhoon who wants hot lovin’ now. Brass shows us this by Lola constantly lifting her skirt and being in the main knickerless, and writhing in a way that signals early onset thrush rather than out of control sexual desire. Throw in a subplot regarding Andre (Mower, yes the one plying his trade in Emmerdale), sexual adventurer and possibly Lola’s Father (the two have the kind of relationship that even Serge Gainsbourg may have found a little bit off) and you have a very, very long one hour 45 minutes.
A slimline plot is no impediment to cinematic greatness, however Tinto Brass’s cheesier than a Gouda dildo visual aesthetic and antediluvian attitude to sexual politics make this a tough watch. Shot like a Flake advert from the seventies, with a bright and breezy score from De Palma regular Pino Donnagio, it feels historic so it comes as a shock to realise that this is a film of relatively recent nineties vintage. The abundance of pubic hair on display may be historically accurate but makes you think Sylvia Krystel is going to pop up any minute.
A special kind of sensibility is required to make a genuinely erotic film; strong female characters are a must if a leering, misogynistic quality  is going to be avoided. Brass is one of those characters who thinks he is celebrating womanhood and the glory of more innocent times before religious and political morality took control of our libidos. He may be a libertarian but one who you feel would be spasming with uncontrollable laughter looking at those pens that either dress or undress a lady depending on which way you hold them, so beloved of school trips to Calais.
Brass loves the close up vagina shot way too much; by the end of this film you will be more familiar with Ammirati’s nether regions than her gynaecologist. It feels weird, intrusive and not at all alluring, but then what do you expect from a film that has a panty-less Lola, riding a bike on a hot summers day, who on dismounting finds the local Catholic Priests so aroused that they take to inhaling the heady fumes of her lady parts from recently vacated bicycle seat. In Tinto Brass’s erotic world though, attempted rape and incest are all subjects that are up for a good natured laugh.
Grubby and tedious as this all is, there is a certain panache in the way it has been constructed. It looks beautiful, like the scenes set in Sicily in The Godfather, it has that same woozy, sultry sensibility. It is a veneer of quality that the film does not deserve, like a Caravaggio painting that Tinto has then gone and drawn a cock on with a marker pen.
You can marvel at many things in this movie, such as Patrick Mower's ornate cigarette lighter with two people fucking on it. Why the local peeping tom has been invited to the wedding in his army regalia? Why is this all as sexy as a missing Beryl Reid sex tape? If the best scene in a film is a woman urinating in the rain, should the movie be considered a failure?
At one stage a cow walking across the road is filmed having a shit. That cow is one hell of a critic.

You get the opening and closing credits in Italian and that’s your lot. The opening theme sounds like the work of The Shadows. Cliff Richard would not approve.
If you like your pubic hair in high def then this if for you, it is shot in Tinto’s gauzy style so picture is deliberately soft. There is also the option for Italian or dubbed English. English at least gives it a grotty, out of kilter feel that may make it worth watching once.

Jason Abbey