Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

The Voyeur (1994)
Cult Epics | Buy at Amazon | Review by Jay Kulpa

Tinto Brass seems to have two basic obsessions: buttocks and labia.

THE VOYEUR is a film all about "The Male Gaze" in film, by a master of it. Every nook and camel-toe get explored by the camera in this set-bound, softly-lit, weirdly perfume-ad-like film. It's of 1994 vintage but has an Eighties haze and the aesthetic of a Seventies centerfold spread, lacking only a long string of pearls and a wicker chair. The compositions, though, are sometimes as painterly and composed as those of Peter Greenaway, and in the service of a nearly hard-core fantasia.

In THE VOYEUR, evidently based on a famed novel, we follow Dodo, a college professor dealing with his wife, Silvia, leaving him with little explanation, as he's confronted by the erotic everywhere he looks. We open with his memory of Silvia (Katerina Vasilissa, a Polish actress who resembles Rebecca Romijn) doing a reverse striptease then jumping on top of him. In the next scene, Silvia proves her exhibitionism in a fantastical version of a Chinese restaurant, explaining she's not returning to him as she proceeds to "perform" for him... and everyone else within eye-shot.

It should be noted from the get-go that this is an unrated movie "for mature audiences" only. There's lots of full frontal nudity, explicitly simulated sex, and erect (prosthetic) penises all over the place. Not to mention lots of shots (many with a camera and key light practically rammed right up it) of what's referred to as:

  • the hackles of a wildcat
  • the crest of a rooster
  • a plume of a helmet
  • a brush
  • a living den
  • pale and pink seashell

Dodo shares an apartment with his satyr of a father, a man with no scruples, boundaries, and a prodigious piece and Dad's maid, Fausta. She parades around in barely-there outfits, Lolita sunglasses on her ski-slope of a nose that eerily echoes the slope of her breasts. When not cooking for the father, she's warming up his cigars in a scene that... predates the Clinton trial.

Not surprising, given its title, but THE VOYEUR centers around watching. Dodo views his father and the maid in sexual hijinks, teaches a class about voyeurism, and takes home a student who's the model for and lover of a lesbian photographer. She strips and performs for and on him, then on and with her girlfriend. He tries to talk Silvia again into returning to him at the movies. They watch a Tinto Brass film, oddly enough, then are stirred to sex while another audience member watches them. He plumbs his childhood issues with Daddy and even visits what might be the world's only orgy beach.

All the while, Dodo sorts through his erotic memories, trying to figure out who Silvia's left him for. Of course, this is all obvious to the audience. The journey and conclusion aren't really what's important here, it's all about erotic reverie. Misty close-ups of genitals, erotic tableau staged on obvious sets, everything a stand-in for sexualized fantasy. This is one gorgeously filmed dirty movie, filled with sumptuous close-ups of perfect bodies. The DVD features trailers for a collection of Tinto Brass films and all look to be in the same vein. In the past I've only seen his more story-heavy but also highly sexed-up CALIGULA and SALON KITTY. They're worth looking up and, if this is your cup of tea, there's a large oeuvre of films primarily about naked women with heart-shaped bottoms lovingly caressed by Tinto's "male gaze."

 

 


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