Venus in Furs (3 stars)

(18) 81min (Shameless DVD retail)


A wealthy man (Regis Vallee) learns from childhood to associate sexuality with forms of punishment. Which would be all very well, but he meets the woman of his dreams (Laura Antonelli) at a posh resort, having peeped through the wall at her undressing, masturbating and having sex with other partners. There follows a relationship mainly based upon his peeping at her while having sex with other men. Unsurprisingly, the relationship goes pear-shaped long before she does.

Quite whether Italian exploitation filmmaker Massimo Dallamano’s 1968 film is just lushly coloured softcore porn or a genuine attempt to uncover the inner psyche of some aspects of alternative sexualities depends on what you’re willing to, er, in-fur. I suspect it’s a bit of both. The pocket-book Freud that saturates the central character’s voiceover can at times be heavy-handed, and the concentration on the male gaze in its imagery leads one to suspect that however serious its intent, the film never escapes a certain blokiness. All the same there’s a bit of food for thought about sexuality and personal history that makes it, just about, worthwhile. Minimal extras.

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