Starring: Anna Ammirati, Patrick Mower
Director: Tinto Brass
This relatively late film (from 1998) is out of Tinto Brass’ earthiest outings, which is saying something. Set in a neverlandish 1950s, it’s the story of the titular Lola (Anna Ammirati), who flounces around a small Italian town, scandalizing everyone with her antics. Having second thoughts about her impending marriage, frustrated because she can’t wait to lose her virginity (her strait-laced fiancé is no help), she’s increasingly drawn to André (Patrick Mower), a wealthy rake who employs her mother as a housekeeper and who is rumoured to be her father. Can she keep her legs together until her wedding day? What with this being a Tinto Brass movie, it doesn’t seem likely.
It’s Brass’ familiar theme of male timidity and wishy-washiness in the face of female sexuality, served up with a sultry atmosphere of sweltering sensuality, a spaghetti-tangle of relationships and a bunch of colourfully louche characters. Brass gleefully gives the whole thing a feminist slant – virginal she might be, but Lola is also stridently emancipated – and there’s an uncensored, unsanitized, animalistic fleshiness to her sexual awakening which you will either find refreshingly frank or simply too much information (nudity’s one thing, but nudity with hairy armpits…?).
Brits will be surprised to see Patrick Mower, of Emmerdale fame, in this racy company, but he turns in an enjoyably ripe performance – the one smooth note in an otherwise abrasively bawdy and boisterous piece of work. The frenzied central character and earthy sensuality mean that it’s not for the faint-hearted, but Frivolous Lola is one of those films where Brass was able to get onto celluloid exactly what he was about. The HD restoration, courtesy of Cinecitta studios, is a little soft and woolly but it’s bright, with a nice glow to it.