• Flesh, The

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: September 12th, 2017.
    Director: Marco Ferreri
    Cast: Francesca Deller, Sergio Castellitto
    Year: 1991
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    The Movie:

    Marco Ferreri, the man who directed La Grande Bouffe and who acted in Pasolini’s Porcile, directed The Flesh (La Carne) in 1991. The film played Cannes and had a brief theatrical run afterwards, but has been tough to see outside of poor quality bootlegs ever since (at least in North America). Cult Epics fixes that with this new Blu-ray release.

    The film revolves around the exploits of a recently divorced piano player named Paolo (Sergio Castellitto). By chance one day, he meets a gorgeous woman named Francesca (Francesca Dellera) and, not surprisingly, falls head over heels in love with her pretty much instantly. It makes sense that Paolo would throw himself at her the way he does, not just because she’s beautiful, but because his lot in life is a little dire since the divorce. His job isn’t fulfilling, his ex-wife took custody of the kids and he really doesn’t have a whole lot going for him.

    Francesca takes advantage of this, to start, realizing that he’ll basically do whatever she wants him to do. They head off to a small seaside cottage at her behest, where he indulges her every suggestion – some of which are a little odd. When she decides to leave, however, Paolo’s got other ideas and things get even more bizarre from there.

    Francesca Dellera, who will be familiar to Tinto Brass fans thanks to her turn in Capriccio in 1987, didn’t appear in more than a handful of movies but she certainly has an undeniable screen presence. Not only is she extremely attractive but she’s able to control the screen the same way that she’s able to control Paolo. The camera loves her and she loves it back, delivering a fairly perfect performance as the film’s female lead. Her work contrasts in interesting ways with Sergio Castellitto’s performance, at least to start with. Where she exudes sex appeal and self-confidence he’s meek, unsure of himself. Where she can be quite demanding, he’s often times the submissive in the relationship. She walks on him. Of course, once this shifts, so too do both performances, but detailing exactly how and why that happens would be an injustice to those who haven’t seen the movie yet. No spoilers here. Let it suffice to say that the acting from both principals is very good and it suits both the film’s quirky story and eclectic direction quite nicely.

    Marco Ferreri’s direction is assured. The movie is nicely paced and it manages to deliver the right mix of humor, drama, weirdness and proper character development. It doesn’t always ‘play nice’ but it doesn’t need to. This is hardly the sort of sappy, sugary sweet romance film you expect when discussing romantic comedies but more of a black comedy with a twisted arthouse slant. The camerawork is solid and both the locations and the set dressing interesting and appealing to the eye.


    Cult Epics gives The Flesh a Blu-ray release framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition derived from a 35mm print in less than perfect condition, but it still results in a perfectly watchable experience. Detail is pretty solid and while minor print damage is a constant, colors look nice and accurate. Black levels are good and the transfer is film-like, meaning that it is free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement. The film has remained pretty obscure since its debut, especially in North America, where this release marks the picture’s official home video debut.

    Audio options are provided in Italian language DTS-HD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles provided in English only. The 5.1 mix doesn’t sound all that different from the 2.0 track, though the fact that it’s lossless gives it the edge in terms of clarity and depth. Overall the mix is fine, it keep things mostly up front and really just uses the surrounds to spread out the score and effects a bit. Levels are properly balanced throughout and there are no noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion.

    Extras start off with a featurette entitled Behind The Scenes Of The Flesh which runs five minutes. It’s a quick but interesting piece that looks to have been shot at the same time as the five minutes of interviews with director Marco Ferreri and cast members Francesca Dellera and Sergio Castellitto. Between the two pieces you get a good idea what went into the making of the picture and what it was like on set. Some of the behind the scenes footage is particularly interesting to see and the interviews are both candid and interesting.

    Outside of that we get a minute of footage shot at the Cannes Film Festival 1991 featuring Ferreri and Dellera, the film’s original theatrical trailer, a still gallery of lobby cards, menus and chapter selection. It’s also worth noting that the first 3000 copies include a slipcover featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx and that the insert cover features the film’s original poster art. As this is a combo pack release a DVD version of the movie is also included inside the case.

    The Final Word:

    While The Flesh might technically be a romantic comedy, don’t go into this one expecting anything conventional by the standards of that genre. While Ferreri’s film will be worth seeing for some simply for the presence of the beautiful Francesca Deller, it’s also quite clever, quite twisted and quite entertaining. The Blu-ray release from Cult Epics isn’t pristine, but it presents this rare film in decent enough shape and with some nice extras as well. Recommended for fans of oddball art films and subversive European comedy.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!