What?

Film

Comedy

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Polanski takes American innocence (Sydne Rome) abroad to Italy, and places her in the middle of a droll and inconsequential sex (or perversion) comedy. What lifts the film out of its one-joke level is Polanski's civilised handling of his material. Avoiding obvious laughs, he opts for a mixture of satire and comedy of embarrassment (as our heroine finds herself more and more preyed and pryed upon), with everyone playing games where only you don't know the rules. All suitably throwaway, it's held together by our own curiosity and Polanski's obvious delight in observing such strange goings-on in rich summer villas.
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Release details

UK release:

1972

Duration:

113 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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366weirdmovies

There appears to be a typo in the above review. "avoiding obvious laughs" should probably read "avoiding any laughs." Just a heads up.

NP

What? is an inspired take on 'Alice in Wonderland' and a satire of contemporary manners. Nancy (Sydney Rome) is the archetypal, implicitly privileged hippy-style traveller - crossing continents with a wide-eyed naivety countered only darkly by the opening comedic encounter with the mythic, hitchhikers' nightmare: a trio of potential rapists. This sequence combining 'Carry on' and swinging sixties aesthetics in a 'through the glass darkly' way is the prequel to an intelligent, erotic comedy. Her escape minus baggage and passport, thus identity, and descent into wonderland, an unspecified Mediterranean villa, is the entree to a Groundhog Day of repeated encounters with the milieu and cyphers of Carroll's tale in contemporary form. The setting neatly parodies and extends the premise of 'La Dolce Vita', complete with Marcello Mastrioanni as a seedy pimp/white rabbit. Matters of clock time refer to the novel's original confusions. This is the Beckettian, closed world of time in suspension and a brilliant interpretation of the original conceit. The central timekeeper, the old and ailing King of Hearts, eventually emerges, like the decadent aristocracy in 'La Dolce Vita' as a reduced but necessary sun to the constellatory court, all variously playing their supporting roles ad absurdum and reductio. There are minor parodies en route. Signifiers of 'High' art are everywhere, from Bacon to Cezanne to Delacroix; in this respect, it's a trainspotter's paradise, but, like the brilliant Mozart piano duo performed twice, High Art is merely a donnée, a backdrop or reality effect which lends the aura of culture to a climate of dissipation. A form has evolved in which the leisured exploration of wildly devolved purpose offers only the necessary return to a containing habitual and its diminishing potential to offer meaning. In this sense it's a marriage between 'Alice' and 'Waiting for Godot'. I have just seen this film for the first time, but can't wait to re-read Alice and return to it. It's a real gem.

NP

What? is an inspired take on 'Alice in Wonderland' and a satire of contemporary manners. Nancy (Sydney Rome) is the archetypal, implicitly privileged hippy-style traveller - crossing continents with a wide-eyed naivety countered only darkly by the opening comedic encounter with the mythic, hitchhikers' nightmare: a trio of potential rapists. This sequence combining 'Carry on' and swinging sixties aesthetics in a 'through the glass darkly' way is the prequel to an intelligent, erotic comedy. Her escape minus baggage and passport, thus identity, and descent into wonderland, an unspecified Mediterranean villa, is the entree to a Groundhog Day of repeated encounters with the milieu and cyphers of Carroll's tale in contemporary form. The setting neatly parodies and extends the premise of 'La Dolce Vita', complete with Marcello Mastrioanni as a seedy pimp/white rabbit. Matters of clock time refer to the novel's original confusions. This is the Beckettian, closed world of time in suspension and a brilliant interpretation of the original conceit. The central timekeeper, the old and ailing King of Hearts, eventually emerges, like the decadent aristocracy in 'La Dolce Vita' as a reduced but necessary sun to the constellatory court, all variously playing their supporting roles ad absurdum and reductio. There are minor parodies en route. Signifiers of 'High' art are everywhere, from Bacon to Cezanne to Delacroix; in this respect, it's a trainspotter's paradise, but, like the brilliant Mozart piano duo performed twice, High Art is merely a donnée, a backdrop or reality effect which lends the aura of culture to a climate of dissipation. A form has evolved in which the leisured exploration of wildly devolved purpose offers only the necessary return to a containing habitual and its diminishing potential to offer meaning. In this sense it's a marriage between 'Alice' and 'Waiting for Godot'. I have just seen this film for the first time, but can't wait to re-read Alice and return to it. It's a real gem.