Devil in the Flesh / Diavolo in corpo (1986)

4.0 out of 5

Radical director Marco Bellocchio revisits the parapolitical fringes of Italian society and the micro-sects of the type that inhabited Slap the Monster on Page One but here the trial of a political activist is little more than a backdrop for a love affair between his fiancée, played by the beautiful Maruschka Detmers, and a schoolboy on the verge of his final exams portrayed by Federico Pitzalis.

An occasional dream sequence cut seamlessly into the narrative and a bizarre courtroom sex scene suggest, briefly, that the film would take a turn towards the surrealism of If... but this turns out, thankfully, not to be the case as the styling of counterculture cinema would be especially out of place in this 1980s arty romp-fest.

Those who appreciate the sweetness of later Tinto Brass fare such as Frivolous Lola, albeit without Tintoretto's signature themes, may find themselves equally mesmerized by this romantic drama and the camera clearly loves Detmers. She shines in every scene just as, for Brass, the incredibly telegenic Anna Ammirati does as Lola.

This is a incredibly sweet and beautifully shot feature from the director of depressing Lou Castel vehicle Fists in the Pocket and the notoriety of Devil in the Flesh can largely, if not completely, be attributed to an extended scene of non-simulated fellatio amongst all the emotionally charged humping and snogging.

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