RIP Lina Wertmüller (1928 – 2021)

Lina Wertmüller was an Italian film director best known as the auteur of The Seduction of Mimi (1972), Love and Anarchy (1973), Swept Away (1974), and Seven Beauties (1975).

Street flirting scene in The Seduction of Mimi, like a ballet actually.

Since I had not seen any of Lina Wertmüller’s movies yet, I watched all four of these over the weekend. One dubbed in English with Spanish subtitles, two in Italian with Portuguese subtitles, one in Italian with no subtitles.

A Belgian film critic

There was a Belgian film critic on Facebook who said that he’d never liked Wertmüller’s films, Patrick Duynslaegher is his name. He called the performances in her films exaggerated and he wondered how she could have merited the success she had once had.

One person commented on the good man’s post that his disapproval probably meant that these films  were good films. Ever since the days, she said, when he still wrote for Knack, when he panned a film, she had gathered it was probably a masterpiece, and it usually was. He replied graciously to her comment that he was glad that he had been able to guide her through the film landscape in this special way.

Four of her films

I watched the four films and as could be expected I felt different about these films than Duynslaegher. I was amused, I laughed, I thought they were very witty films, I didn’t find them pretentious anywhere.

The scene in Seven Beauties where the picaro in a concentration camp seduces the ugly, obese camp commander is masterful.

The flirtation scene in The Seduction of Mim‘ is, if anything, even more masterful.

The f***ing scene in Mimi with the obese ‘mama’ is hilarious.

Giancarlo Giannini is excellent in each of those films, he reminds me very much of Patrick Dewaere.

I don’t really understand your problem with her films, I said to Patrick. Surely Fellini is just as grotesque and unrealistic?


I found the rape scene in Swept Away hot and it reminded me of the extended scene in Irréversible, which was repulsive.

The sadomasochism in the seduction of the female prison guard in Seven Beauties is not the only bout of sadomasochism, because before the rape scene he had forced her to kiss his hand and after the rape scene the woman becomes as docile as ever and even kisses his feet.

Opening montage of Seven Beauties

And then there is the opening montage of Seven Beauties, where we see historical footage from WWII, with a song by Enzo Jannacci superimposed. In that song, titled “Quelli che” (English “those who”), Enzo sings cynical commentary phrases in parlando style. And after every sentence he says “oh yeah”, in a crooner-like way.