Devil in the Flesh (1986) Review

Marco Bellocchio released the Il DiavoloInCorpoin 1986 as an Italian films that even though it had a creepy name it was more sexual than horror. Devil in the Flesh was an adaptation of a Raymond Radiguet’s novel about a high-school student who feels in love with an older woman he sees through his classroom window.

The woman, who’s alone due to her fiancée being in jail, starts to get approached by the student, who eventually finds a way to the heart of the woman. Yet, their relationship gets condemned with time, and here’s is where the devil enters.

A Forbidden Act of Love

Andrea (Federico Pitzalis) is a high-school student who after getting in love with the woman he sees from his classroom, starts approaching her and making advances due to his weird and adolescent attraction.

This woman’s name is Giulia (played by Maruschka Detmers), and because her fiancé is jailed due to some seemingly political crimes, she is now isolated and looking for away to get over her pain. Yet, is not long before Andrea starts getting closer to Giulia, who without a doubt, also starts feeling something for the young man.

The relationship flourishes both sexually and sentimentally. Yet, this relationship is not accepted by her soon-to-be mother-in-law, who approaches the father of the high-school student and start condemning the relationship more and more. The father of the young man, though, is a psychoanalyst, a psychiatrist who has actually treated Giulia before.

Here is where the devil starts appearing, not in the physical form, but psychologically in the mind of Giulia. She starts making sexual advances while being treated by the father of her young lover. This makes the audience think about how crazy the girl may be.

But everything seems to get on anyway.
Giulia and Andrea keep their passion and their relationship gets warmer and warmer, even when her fiancé is released from prison and the father of boy opposes completely to their relationship. The end is just poetic, both in imagery and dramatically, releasing a passion only a few movies can.

Sexuality in a Darker yet More Interesting Way

The film is darkly lit throughout its only sex scene, making it feel more interesting and way more passionate. Both the main characters played by Marushka Detmars and Federico Pitzalis are wonderfully portrayed, also giving really well-done performances that gave the movie a lot more appraisal.

The sexual scene is more erotic than expected due to how we can see the characters get to know each other in a darker way. Both the feeling of a forbidden relationship and the seeming craziness of the woman make the movie feel a lot more intense and passionate than it would normally do, yet it happens more passionately due to how great both characters performances were.

Thanks to how Marushka and Federico delivered their acting so fluidly and almost real, the movie felt less slow, boring and simplistic, and much more passionate, admirable and really interesting for viewers, especially those who are easily turned on in a good way by a good Italian cinematography and acting.

The Political Art Of the Movie

Even though the movie seems to be about a forbidden sexual encounter between an adult woman and a teenager, the director said many times it was mainly political than anything else.

The movie is full of metaphoric scenes, seemingly clear dialogue that actually gives a sense of political commentary and even terrorist, revolutionaries and other political characters which give a sort of touch to what the director wanted to tell with it.

The movie, objectively, can be reviewed politically as how love for revolution is evoked. Giulia, is a revolutionary, easy metaphor for revolution, for a lost cause who after being alone due to no one supporting her, gets easily distracted and drawn to accept everything from a younger yet respectful and clear-minded idea, as Andrea.

Their relationship could be summed up as how revolution can be easily attracted to anyone in search of discovery, no matter how this could harm their lives, yet Andrea never lets his relationship with Giulia damage his school or his relationship with his father (metaphor of good values), who he respect greatly.

In the end, Andrea leaves Giulia in search of finishing his school time and getting good grades, which is also summarized in a part where he’s asked to translate an excerpt from the famous “Antigone”, an excerpt about how traditional gods and their authority can be easily contrasted with free will and laicism as a way of life, how everyone can be distracted by those things that seem bad, yet are not as bad as the real bad – as everything is about experiences and nothing else.

This movie is simply a piece of art who many people failed to understand, yet a really interesting and artistic way of presenting a forbidden relationship between the good, the bad and the forbidden – a movie not to lose.

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