Skin Deep / Senza buccia (1979)

2.5 out of 5

Making the most of the rugged coastline and black volcanic sands of the islands around Comune di Lipari, Sicily, Skin Deep is a coming of age drama and breezy romantic comedy that, despite all the messing about in boats, owes little to more serious fare such as Waves of Lust or Top Sensation. Indeed, this one is more Porky's meets Weekend at Bernie's, sans cadaver, with the hook being that a couple of Norwegian naturists introduce a summer-love ensemble to the joys of nudism with the result being that majority of the feature is played out by a cast in the buff.

Since the subject matter is handled with a certain sensitivity and devoid of sensationalism, or indeed cheap balls-out laughs, the film succeeds as a drama as Lilli Carati, PWEI muse Ciccolina and Olga Karlatos make for strong romantic leads in a surprisingly sex-free endeavor.

The score is breezy and poppy and includes music from Nico Fidenco and also Pino Donaggio's Io che non vivo that would most likely be better known to non-Italian audiences as a hit for Dusty Springfield.

Skin Deep would probably play well back-to-back with the Ornella Muti vehicle Il sole nella pelle for the similar beach love theme or possibly one of the Edwige Fenech Schoolteacher films. It is, after all, lightweight enough, has a similar intergenerational love obsession and, bizarrely, also uses an attempted suicide as a plot development providing a jarring contrast to the dominant mood.

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