May-October Behaviour in the Bedroom: Stay As You Are (1978) + Breezy (1973)

December 4, 2016 | By

Although separated by five years, there’s a substantial difference in the depiction of May-October romances in Breezy (1973) and Stay as You Are / Così come sei (1978).

BreezyClint Eastwood’s Breezy is very much a Hollywood production that minimizes nudity, holds off on the inevitable sexual liaison between Frank (William Holden) and Breezy (Kay Lenz), and focuses on the conflicts that arise from the pair’s disparate age, levels of maturity, and intellect; no one’s a pervert, sadist, airhead, or sexpot. It’s a tasteful drama that reflects its era, including the ending that leaves things grey, allowing the viewer to decide whether the couple has a future, given few of the mounting conflicts came to full resolutions.

StayAsYouAre_BRTo the other end is Alberto Lattuada’s Stay as You Are, which operates on three specific levels: the drama of an architect in a mid-life crisis, aggravated by an exhausted marriage and a rebellious daughter; an erotic drama that delivers the expected goods of nudity, sex, and an ever restful camera lens; and a eurosleaze sexploitation flick that avoids clarifying whether Giulio (Marcello Mastroianni) is sleeping with his own daughter Francesca (Nastassja Kinski) until the film’s midpoint.

The levels of risqué elements in Stay are nevertheless packaged in what’s an erotic art film, so it maintains credibility with its excellent cast, and Lattuada doesn’t allow the film to degenerate into outright sexploitation. The film’s perspective is firmly locked from Giulio’s vantage, whereas Eastwood and screenwriter Jo Heims attempt a more balanced approach, making their heroine smarter than her waifish age and impish stature.

Francesca remains a sexpot; she’s the temptress that urges Giulio to ignore ‘irrational worries’ of incest and enjoy what they’re experiencing, whereas Breezy is more emotionally mature, and her courting isn’t reliant on weekend sexcapades in exotic cities. By keeping their romance fixed in Laurel Canyon, they’re a more believable couple, whereas the city-hopping Giulio and Francesca are part of a fantasy drama. Perhaps the most surprising event lies in the ending of each film: one opts for a gamble based on faith, and the other a dramatic downer, leaving the lovers in separate somber corners.

Cult Epics released Stay on Blu back in 2015, and Universal’s Breezy DVD stems from 2004, but they’re two titles ostensibly tackling the same May-October dilemmas, except from differing cultural stances, and tailoring elements to fickle genre connoisseurs.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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