The unique universe

of Lina Wertmüller




In four films, Italian director Lina Wertmüller sees Italy through the eyes of a little man.


Giancarlo Giannini

One must have an uncanny intelligence to blindly surrender to being directed by Lina Wertmüller. Italian Giancarlo Giannini possesses this and becomes her go-to actor. Giannini, who does not shy away from the worst of what the human soul can represent, takes on the roles of a man of average height, wonderfully mean, violent, never responsible and terribly alive. He turns into a kind of Charlie Chaplin in “Charlot” mode, which would have transformed him into an unalterable ridiculous figure, with his falsely virile mustache, his eyes sometimes half-closed when he believes he’s being dominant, then opening wide when he is about to flee. With this imploring character of the little macho guy, Wertmüller upholds the imbecility of individualism through four films: The Seduction of Mimi (1972), Love & Anarchy (1973), Swept Away (1974) and Seven Beauties (1975).



Playing opposite him: Italians!

More than Italy, Wertmüller examines Italians. Mimi, the little blue-collar worker, Antonio, the anarchist taking refuge in a brothel, Gennarino, the communist skipper, and Pasqualino, a detestable thug - all have modest origins. Because they are nothing in the eyes of society, they confront an Italy with social classes marked by proud communism, the thick mafia, and the arrogant bourgeoisie. At once paltry and consistent, the Italians who face the easily offended protagonists of Wertmüller's films, react like cartoon characters. The filmmaker's sophisticated camera deforms them, sizing them up at close range, and raises a disarming triviality that makes them all unforgettable.


Virginie Apiou

Categories: Lecture Zen