I revisited Sebastiano Montresor's directorial debut, "L'eredità di Caino" [Eng. Title: The Heritage of Cain"] with some more background information about the work. The title alludes to a collection of works by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, and the film is an interpretation of one of his novellas "Venus in Furs" (Ger. Venus im Pelz).
I haven't read 'Venus in Furs' - so my only knowledge of the story in whatever form is through a Jesus Franco film by the same name.
But Montresor's interpretation is a different animal altogether, ambitious in its scope and experimental in the way it discards traditional story-telling methods, and deconstructs the characters into exaggerated - even distorted versions of themselves in order to portray the 'supersensualism' of Lui the protagonist, as he debases himself in front of the 'Venus' he so covets.
Here's what I gathered from the film. As part of an arrangement, Lui degrades himself in order to win the affections of Wanda (Venus, Mistress), in the same manner he becomes a willing slave of prostitute Anna - his goal - shall we say is 'sexual bliss', symbolised by a naked woman whose face is encased in a gas mask. We see Lui realising the truth about himself and the object of his fetish as the film progresses.
The film has a claustrophobic feel about it, shot entirely within a chequered black and white space. Some of the visual elements are reminiscent of a Peter Greenaway, but while I am unsure of some of the symbolism - like Wanda in a bathtub filled with milk and some rather unsavoury flies - they contain striking imagery nevertheless. There are also a couple of unpleasant scenes where Lui (uninhibitedly played by Filippo Trini) performs some degrading acts upon himself, looked on by a plainly unmoved Wanda, and the ever-present masked woman. One could reasonably assume the film is highly stylised, with Montresor pulling out all stops to make his scenes as he puts it, 'hyper-realistic' - even if it means resorting to theatrics.
The film is however beautifully composed, with some interesting editing and sound. This sure is a unique film, with some bold performances by actors depicting some shockingly perverse acts. I've made a couple of compilations for this post (with a degree of trepidation nevertheless), featuring Lucia Mascino who plays Wanda, and Anna Mascino who plays prostitute Anna. More about the film can be found in the official website.
Compilation 1: Lucia Mascino
It includes scenes of Lui debasing himself in front of Wanda, as it turns out, for no apparent benefit. The girl in the mask is played by 'Heidee'.
Compilation 2: Anna Mascino
Scenes of Lui with the prostitute Anna. There's also some naked dancing to rock and roll..!