BR: Stay As You Are / Così come sei (1978)

December 4, 2016 | By

StayAsYouAre_BRFilm: Very Good

Transfer: Very Good

Extras: Good

Label:  Cult Epics

Region: All

Released:  May 26, 2015

Genre:  Drama / Romance

Synopsis: An architect rethinks his May-October relationship when the young woman he’s seeing may be his own daughter.

Special Features:  Original soundtrack gallery / Theatrical Trailer.

 


 

Review:

Perhaps an obvious attempt to riff on Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Tango in Paris (1972), producer Giovanni Bertolucci (who also produced several of his brother’s films, including The Conformist) and director Alberto Lattuada (Mafioso, Fräulein Doktor) delivered this variant of a May-October fling that’s peppered with a dash of possible incest – a strange quandary to inflict on a hero in what’s ostensibly a doomed romance drama.

In the script by Lattuada and Paolo Cavara (Mondo Cane, Black Belly of the Tarantula), Giulio Marengo (Marcello Mastroianni) is a noted architect who on occasion travels from Rome to Venice, and one afternoon he comes across pretty university student Francesca (Nastassja Kinski). They flirt, he offers her a lift, and they soon separate, but they meet again and engage in a ménage at a flat she shares with classmate Cecilia (Tenebrae’s Ania Peroni), another uninhibited soul.

The day after their affair, he’s told by close friend Lorenzo (venerable Francisco Rabal) that Francesca is the daughter of an old flame, and may be Giuilano’s love child, prompting a weird Is she? / Isn’t she? struggle that causes him to hesitate further contact in spite of her potent advances. It’s an unusual monkey wrench that’s used to deepen tension, add some dark comedy, and keep the character in a long state of personal and moral struggle, but in the end, when evidence proves too weak and Francesca’s tugging can’t be avoided, Giulano tosses caution into the wind, and Stay As You Are settles into a standard erotic drama where the pair escape to Venice for a fantasy weekend, and Giulio is less concerned about saving his strained marriage to Luisa (excellent Monica Randall).

In spite of her sudden pregnancy and fractured relationship with her bickering parents, daughter Ilaria (Barbara De Rossi) nevertheless pegs Giulio’s affair as ephemeral, and little by little it becomes apparent the age gap is too wide for the new couple, leading to an appropriately bittersweet finale that has both wanting more, but choosing different paths.

The incest quandary adds a bit of unnecessary sleaze to the drama, and it’s a slight echo of Brian De Palma’s Obsession (1976), in which the original script had the father experiencing a bit of Hitchcockian Vertigo (1958) by falling for a woman resembling his former wife who’s actually his daughter. Like De Palma, Lattuada ultimately dispenses the incest, and the drama becomes a less wrong tale of an older man falling for the hot daughter of his dead ex-lover from 20 years ago.

Stay isn’t sexploitation per se, but it has moments that don’t belong in what should be a deeper drama: Giulio’s first encounter with roommate Cecilia has her arriving in the morning and stripping down to her birthday suit; and when Francesca suggests returning to the apartment, she pulls Giulio away from the door when she sees the bedroom is filled with a mass of couples having an orgy.

Kinski’s characterization of Francesca is a half-teen / half-woman, but that’s tempered with the camera and costume designer constantly presenting the actress as sultry and chic; whereas other girlfriends wear gaudy 70s clothes, Kinski sports haute couture ensembles and soft colours. Decades since its release, Stay is an example of a film that mostly manages to hold its aura because of Kinki’s radiant beauty; unlike the prior To the Devil a Daughter (1976), this film proved a fortuitous calling card that led to Tess (1979), Cat People (1982), and The Moon in the Gutter (1983).

Ennio Morricone’s score is mostly effective in capturing the romance – a poppish main theme is rather grating – and Cult Epics’ Blu-ray includes the score + alternate tracks in a bonus audio gallery.

The film is uncut, but it’s apparent what survives of Stay isn’t great. The source print is grainy, weak in colours, and the transfer has signs of DNR; it’s not unwatchable by any means, but the fine location cinematography by José Luis Alcaine (Volver, The Skin I Live In) is marred by a less than ideal print. The BR includes both original Italian audio (with English subtitles), and the laughable English dub track that features wholly ridiculous voices for the two stars: the dubbing actress for Kinski makes her sound like a nitwit, and Mastroianni’s English voice clearly belongs to a man two decades younger than the actor.

Lattuada would continue to write and direct features and TV productions, whereas Giovanni Bertolucci went on to produce the more overt incest drama Luna (1979) for brother Bernardo, and become Tinto Brass’ main producer, bringing the world some of Brass’ best work: The Key (1983), Miranda (1985), Capriccio (1987), Snack Bar Budapest (1988), Paprika (1991), All Ladies Do It (1992), P.O. Box Tinto Brass (1995), Frivolous Lola  (1998), and Private (2003).

 

 

© 2016 Mark R. Hasan

 


 

External References:
Editor’s BlogIMDB  —  Soundtrack Album — Composer Filmography
 
Vendor Search Links:
Amazon.ca —  Amazon.com —  Amazon.co.uk

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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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