Lina Wertmüller Robert Hatch - Essay

Robert Hatch

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The End of the World in Our Usual Bed in a Night Full of Rain—a title that cumbersome is as good a way as any to assure attention for a movie that otherwise might not attract much comment. In her latest work Lina Wertmuller refers to serious, not to say fashionable, topics of international concern: the women's drive for equality; the fact that, while a relatively few people are far too rich, the vast majority of people are far too poor; the savagery with which nations apply military sanctions at levels safely below the critical mass of nuclear warfare; the alleged imminent death by pollution of the only planet available to us. But the couple whose personal history evokes these considerations … are ill-suited for a rational exploration of large social issues. They are a pair of hysterics who communicate most readly by hitting, kicking, scratching, upending and generally bruising each other, to the accompaniment of uncontrolled weeping and breathless profanity, and by preference out of doors in a torrential downpour…. All of [their bouts] are terminated not by a reconciliation of views but by exhaustion. (p. 185)

Night Full of Rain is an energetic picture and I suspect cost a packet…. But it neglects to reveal anything worth knowing about its two characters (except that prudent acquaintances would avoid them), and it alludes to problems of genuine concern for no reason I could discover other than to appear topical. Wertmuller has described it as her most political film; in that case, if I now ask you to brood on the word "Trilateral," you may wish to judge this a highly political review. She is an accomplished, provocative, almost always interesting director. I have no clue to why, this time, she worked so hard but managed to be only provoking. (p. 186)

Robert Hatch, "Films: 'The End of the World in Our Usual Bed in a Night Full of Rain'," in The Nation (copyright 1978 The Nation Associates, Inc.), Vol. 226, No. 6, February 18, 1978, pp. 185-86.