LA GEMELLA EROTICA (ALBERTO CAVALLONE, 1980)
aka Erotic Twin, aka Due gocce d'acqua
Alberto Cavallone is a virtually unknown director who created a handful of incredibly potent films between 1969 and 1983. His work is (somewhat) notoriously political and nihilistic; he seems to approach his films as conduits for his extreme, somewhat anarchic ideas, and his films are often incredibly difficult and enigmatic. Eventually, according to one of the only English language articles on the director (which is available here), he ended up directing "gritty underground porn." Within the context of what I know of his filmography, La Gemella Erotica is somewhat of an anomaly.
The plot, at least what I can gather of it (it should be noted that the copy of the film I watched was in Italian language without any English subtitles, and I have virtually no comprehension of Italian), revolves around a psychiatrist named Tony and two identical twin sisters, Norma and Mary. Norma and Mary are apparently very different from each other, to the point of conflict. Mary ends up blackmailing Norma, and Tony (who is either married to or in a relationship with Norma) is somewhat involved, as it would seem that Tony is occasionally seeing Mary as a patient in his office. Revelations near the end of the film suggest a far more complex situation, and Mary's lover ends up in a position to kill. There is also a very brief subplot involving another of Tony's patient's who ends up raping and killing a woman before regressing into utter insanity.
The plot description probably sounds fairly thin and convoluted, and while I'm sure part of the reason for this is due to my lack of comprehension of the dialogue, several sources also suggest that Cavallone ending up leaving the film in the middle of production, with notorious hack Luigi Cozzi taking over. However, I cannot verify this, as all of the credits on the film itself seem to indicate that it was Cavallone through and through.
While most of the film plays out like a somewhat generic erotic thriller (the subgenre that became so popular throughout the 80s), elements of the film stand out as being coherent within my understanding of the framework of Cavallone's oeuvre. To begin, Cavallone's films have a very unique editing style that is comparable to nothing that I've seen before in cinema. La Gemella Erotica holds up that editing style for about a third of the movie, traces of it popping up periodically. The style is a sort of subversion of the commercial use of the 'cut,' juxtaposing jarring images next to each other to create a mental and emotionally state that is utterly unstable. It is most evident in the film while the rapist is in Tony's office apparently daydreaming a fantasy of what ends up becoming reality, and later in the film when one of the sister's emotional state begins to fracture.
The camera work is also fairly interesting, combining a subjective hand held camera with a more stable objective shooting style, also occasionally sprinkled with more objective hand held camera work. If this dynamic style of cinematography and editing had been held up throughout the entire film (like it is in other films of Cavallone) that would have made at least the visual rhythms of the film more interesting. As it stands, the movie occasionally ventures into rather flat and drawn out periods which play, as mentioned before, like a generic erotic thriller.
Something very irritating about the film is a large majority of the music. It sounds exactly like you would expect a piece of softcore erotica from 1980 would sound like, and often throughout the film, especially during the ending, it's completely distracting and misplaced. Not all of the music cues are awful and mismatched, but enough that it warrants noting. As it stands, in my position of some ignorance towards the plot, I feel confident in declaring it a very minor film in Cavallone's filmography, and a rather weak film overall. There are elements of the story that, if they had been exploited to further effect, could have produced something greater, but as it ended up it's not something I can heartily recommend.