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Saturday, July 2, 2016
Bernardo Bertolucci | La commare secca (The Grim Reaper)
by Douglas Messerli
Bernardo Bertolucci and Sergio Citti (screenplay, based on a story by Pier Paolo Pasolini), Bernardo Bertolucci (director) La commare secca (The Grim Reaper) / 1962
The only internal scenes, the apartments of the prostitute and the gigolo’s lover, the home of the teenager’s friend, and the final dance club where the murderer is caught, are small, cramped, and in disarray.
For all of these characters, finally, sexuality is something to grab and grope quickly, associated with robbery and rape. The film shows a world in which nothing is lasting and permanent. Life is lived on the run, and everyone promiscuously takes what he or she can get, tossing away the remains.
Even the teenagers, who seem well intentioned in their young love, turn to thievery, one of them possibly drowning in the river as he attempts to swim away from the police who have come to question him. As in many of Pasolini’s films, this early Bertolucci work portrays a society where nothing seems to truly matter, as everyone strives to get what little they can. But, as the repeated rainstorm motif makes clear, without a societal umbrella to protect them, all of them are destined to get wet.
Los Angeles, July 2, 2016