The premise of Lina Wertmüller’s Love & Anarchy [Film d’amore e d’anarchia, ovvero ‘stamattina alle 10 in via dei Fiori nella nota casa di tolleranza…’] has the ring of something from Federico Fellini or maybe Pedro Almodóvar (though Fellini makes a lot more sense because she actually worked as his assistant for a spell).
Freckly yokel farmer Tunin (Giancarlo Giannini) learns that his friend was murdered. Why? Because he was an anarchist who was plotting to assassinate “ll Duce” Benito Mussolini. What’s more, Mussolini’s fascist police killed him. To avenge his friend’s death, Tunin takes up his cause.
Tunin ends up at a brothel in Rome. He spends a night with Salomè (Mariangela Melato), who reveals that she’s a co-conspirator for her own reasons. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the coup is a harebrained idea.
Salomè takes Tunin to a rural spot just outside Rome with her and another prostitute, Tripolina (Lina Polito). Salomè distracts Spatoletti (Eros Pagni), the head of Mussolini’s police, while Tunin checks out the area; they then devise a plan to execute the mission.
Meanwhile, Tunin and Tripolina fall in love. Convinced that he isn’t going to make it past the assassination alive, he persuades Tripolina to spend the next two days with him.
The same radical spunk that Wertmüller exhibits in The Seduction of Mimi is just as prevalent in Love & Anarchy; this film is loaded with decadent, sexy hijinks. However, it also its share of some really tender moments—that surprised me. Love & Anarchy turns out devastatingly sad—I left the theater literally bummed out. For all its ridiculous sociopolitical and sexual shenanigans, it’s a far more powerful film.
With Pina Cei, Elena Fiore, Giuliana Calandra, Isa Bellini, Isa Danieli, Enrica Bonaccorti, Anna Bonaiuto, Anita Branzanti, Maria Sciacca, Anna Melato, Gea Linchi, Anna Stivala, Roberto Herlitzka
Production: Euro International Film, Labrador Films
Distribution: Peppercorn-Wormser, Kino Lorber
(Gene Siskel Film Center) B