After several misguided projects, Visconti's last film returns to the territory he knew best, and forms a worthy finale to a distinguished career. The plot is understated melodrama: a turn-of-the-century gentleman of leisure indulges all his own extra-marital whims, but is mortified when his wife has an affair; his whole philosophy crumbles as he desperately tries to preserve his self-respect. It's based (faithfully) on a novel by Gabriele D'Annunzio, and Visconti's treatment is much more novelistic than melodramatic: the style is uninflected, and the stately camerawork directs attention to the period manners and environments and the notably convincing characterisations. The film resolves itself into an almost painfully sincere meditation on masculine self-delusion. It has a great performance from Laura Antonelli as the wife, and excellent ones from Giannini and Jennifer O'Neill as husband and lover.