Lovers and Other Relatives / Peccato veniale (1974)

4.0 out of 5

Since this is yet another sex comedy from Salvatore Samperi that deals with the taboo of sex between a younger boy and an older woman within the domestic environment one could be mistaken for seeing Peccato veniale simply as a retread of Malizia. Especially when it is borne in mind that the woman in question is again played by Laura Antonelli and the boy a returning, and extremely youthful looking twenty one year old Alessandro Momo, who would sadly die this year in a motorcycle accident and Stefano Amato returns also in a similar role to that of Porcello the somewhat undersexed and voyeuristic compatriot. Fred Bongusto is also a returnee and this time turns in a memorable score.

What marks out Peccato veniale as distinct, despite some obvious similarities, is that of the whole tenor of the piece, which is lighter and ever so slightly more frivolous. Indeed, with a 1950s setting, a youths chasing tail theme, the readier deployment of sight gags even bordering occasionally on slapstick takes this work baby steps closer to the realm of the Lemon Popsicle type movies. Some great seaside cinematography delightfully captures a period feel with pastel beach huts, great costuming and beach games lending a certain time capsule like authenticity. A Totò movie playing at a cinema being one of many things complimentary to the attempt to place this movie in a bygone age.

Wonderfully realised, ever so sweet and at times laugh out loud funny Peccato veniale, while not able to quite realise the heights of the ever so slightly dark and award winning Malizia, nevertheless remains a delightful and thoroughly engaging slice of coming of age comedy. Recommended.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics