Young Paolo Passeri, a hitherto academic, had recently enrolled at the Army academy to train as an officer. It is hell for him from day one, caught between proving himself a model cadet to his officers and displaying camaraderie among fellow cadets - they never seem to go together. He also has to unlearn a few things along the way. His commander, the sadistic Capt. Asciutto takes him under his wing and moulds Passeri into his 'model' soldier. This he could achieve, but fails dismally in trying to mould his wife Rosanna too in a similar fashion. It's a marriage made in hell, with either of them abusing the other at any given time. As much as Ascuitto humiliates his wife, she gives it back in full through insults, which leads to him venting his frustrations on the cadets at the academy. Unbeknown to him, Rosanna had also been having an affair with fellow officer Lt. Baio. Ascuitto suspects she could be fooling around and assigns his protégé Passeri to snoop on her activities, but Rosanna trumps him by also taking on Passeri as a lover. When Ascuitto discovers her affair with the Lieutenant through other means, it sets off a chain of events...
This is a well designed film, the only drawback being the cast. Apart from a young Michele Placido who gives a fine account of himself as cadet Paolo Passeri - he also won a David, the rest of the main cast, Franco Nero who plays Capt. Asciutto, Patrick Dewaere who plays Lt. Baio, and Miou-Miou who plays Rosanna don't speak Italian - the post-dubbing doesn't quite work in their favour, and their characters suffer. However, while this may not be Marco Bellocchio's finest work, it is still a film very relevant to its times, done with great purpose and conviction. It will nevertheless be remembered widely for Placido's performance, and also for some explicit nude scenes featuring Miou-Miou, a great actress who's equally renowned for her boldness when it comes to nudity (and for being many a teenager's wet dream). Needless to say, Recommended Viewing..!
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These scenes could have made it into the cinematic 'Nude Hall of Fame', if only they weren't as disturbing - one can say that at the very least, they weren't meant to titillate.
- When Rosanna spurns husband Asciutto's advances - she tells him she's not just a 'hole'. He takes her by force, only to be taunted for his impotence - even claiming she could 'barely feel' him inside her. Rosanna of course, is played by legendary French actress, douce petite Miou-Miou (real name: Sylvette Héry). She sure has this something that brings out the animal in you - I guess you could call it 'sexual charisma'.
- A jealous Asciutto asks Rosanna who she is tarting herself for and they exchange words. But when she calls him an impotent animal - again, he threatens to throw her out. She dares him to - and he obliges in the most humiliating manner possible in this unforgettable nude scene.
- Lt. Baio purveys some porn before joining Rosanna in bed - she'd been kept waiting in his quarters for three hours - oh how romantic! He's also desperate to prove his sexual prowess among his coterie of friends waiting outside. Calling her his sweet whore, he asks her to proclaim that she loves him, aloud. After sex, she asks him to stay a while longer, but he replies, "What for, I made you come, didn't I?" I think Patrick Dewaere and Miou-Miou were still a real-life couple when the film was made (she even bore a child through him). If only I were a fly on the wall during the film shoot..! :)
- When Asciutto finds out his wife had been shagging someone behind his back, he confronts Rosanna. The situation predictably turns ugly, and he starts throwing her around like a rag doll, but he suddenly retreats, muttering to himself that he needs to have her cunt sewn - the bast*rd loves her in his own twisted way. Nevertheless, the cool manner in which Rosanna walks off speak volumes...