Lina Wertmüller Stanley Kauffmann - Essay

Stanley Kauffmann

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

I thought [Love and Anarchy] crude in every way, particularly in its heavy use of reverse symbols: the brothel as a refuge of purity, the innocence of the would-be murderer and the whore and their sudden love, the whole clumsy good-for-bad pageant. There was, yet once more, much exploitation of '30s decor, and Wertmuller's camera movement was hyperthyroid.

The Seduction of Mimi … is a much better picture; so it's a bit depressing, because it was made before Love and Anarchy. Still, it lets us see the latter film as a slip, instead of a norm.

It's a much better script than Love and Anarchy, but it suffers somewhat from the same disease: the author's belief that mere choice of subject brings you halfway home. Over and over we watch scenes that are supposed to break us up, waiting for the moment that will take us over the line from intent to vitality. Wertmuller's camerawork is once again frenzied, muscular, near-hysterical—overhead shots for no reason, lots of zoom (lots of zooms), and the use of distorting lenses….

Wertmuller's future seems now to rest on her ability to close, in her scripts, the gap between plan and realization; and her ability to make her steamy camera style serve her, instead of sweeping her along.

Stanley Kauffmann, "Films: 'The Seduction of Mimi'" (reprinted by permission of Brandt & Brandt Literary Agents, Inc.; copyright © 1974 by Stanley Kauffmann), in The New Republic, Vol. 171, Nos. 4 & 5, July 27 & August 3, 1974, p. 20.