When Lucy (Tyler), a 19-year-old American, whose poet mother has recently died, visits friends in a Tuscan villa, her plans involve more than a simple holiday. For one thing, she cherishes memories of a first kiss, four years earlier, from young Niccolò to whom she'd now like to lose her virginity; for another, she's puzzled by a note in her mother's diary hinting that the man she's considered her father isn't her real parent. At the same time, she soon becomes the focus of interest for the villa's inhabitants, notably the jaded menfolk who are revitalised by her innocence and burgeoning womanhood. The self-obsessed complacency of the arty, Chiantishire expats tries the patience, and the camera's relentless ogling of Tyler's limbs opens the film to charges of voyeurism. And yet, after the deliberate, over-blown portentousness of his recent epics, the looseness, leisurely pacing and the intimacy of mood are a welcome reminder of Bertolucci's directorial assurance. He brings a light touch to small details: the expats' isolation from the 'real world' being revealed through deft short scenes depicting, say, their reaction to the building of a nearby television mast or their encounter with an army officer. But there's also a real sensuousness, less in the emphasis on Tyler herself than in the evocation of the colours, aromas, temperatures and sounds of a particular time and place.
Cast and crew