The incisiveness of Dino Risi intertwined with lyricism and mystery in a bittersweet and tangled plot
Ugo Tognazzi is a perfect balance of truth and lies, Ornella Muti an ambiguous beauty
In large part faithfully adapted from Piero Chiara’s best-selling novel (“a ballet with farcical movements”, according to critic Antonio Altomonte), Dino Risi’s film masterfully retains the fluidity of the tangled narrative, with its bittersweet tone, beautiful landscapes, sneering scoundrels and despicable yet lovable smuttiness. Above all else, Ugo Tognazzi is outstanding as the sneaky Temistocle. It was one of his very best performances, defined by critic Gian Luigi Rondi as “a shrewd balance of truth and lies, cynicism and passion, decorum and baseness”. The object of his desire is Ornella Muti, who emanates beautiful in her portrayal of the somewhat ambiguous widow Berlusconi. Over the years, Dino Risi’s incisiveness has in no way diminished, but it has merged with a sense of mystery and lyricism.
1946. A young man passes his days in gallant adventures on Lake Maggiore. He meets Temistocle, the owner of a villa who is sick of his wife and interested in her younger sister. For Temistocle, the friendship that develops between them is nothing but an alibi so that he can murder his partner and conquer the sister-in-law…