Blu-ray Review: Frivolous Lola (1998)

Frivolous Lola BR CoverDistributor: Arrow Video

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Tinto Brass

Starring: Anna Ammirati, Patrick Mower, Mario Parodi, Susanna Martinková

In Frivolous Lola director Tinto Brass fully caters for the voyeur as he tells the story of Lola (Anna Ammirati), a beautiful young woman growing up in rural Italy in the 1950s. Lola is engaged to handsome baker Masetto (Mario Perodi) but the couple have different ideas on having sex before marriage. Masetto is an honourable man and feels he should be respectful and wait until he and Lola are married but Lola is a fun-loving girl and is desperate for Masetto to take her virginity and prove he is a lover worthy of her hand in marriage, and worthy of living up to the erotic images presented to her in the works of her mothers lover André (Patrick Mower – Emmerdale/The Devil Rides Out).

If there were any one film that fully demonstrates what Tinto Brass is about as a director then Frivolous Lola must surely be it. Sexy and funny with a sly sense of mischief, the opening scene of a laughing Lola riding through the village on her bike whilst giving the stuffy locals an eyeful of her wonderfully pert bottom sets the tone for the whole film, bringing to mind the raunchy comedy of Benny Hill but with Tinto Brass’ eye for a detailed close-up.

Brass directs the film with the same casual breeziness that Anna Ammirati brings in her portrayal of Lola, his camera as enquiring as Lola and just as playful. Much like his work in other films like All Ladies Do It, Brass isn’t afraid to let his camera show you everything in the fullest detail but here it doesn’t feel sleazy or sordid, instead the soft focus of the camera and Lola’s easy-going personality giving the film a light-hearted feel that makes the gratuitous nudity all the more acceptable and easier to explain if you’re unexpectedly caught watching it by somebody who doesn’t fully appreciate the art.

It’s quite odd seeing British television regular Patrick Mower amongst all of the saucy goings-on but he does bring a certain flair to the film, although his initial scenes with Lola are quite uncomfortable until certain revelations come to light. But the star of the show is Anna Ammirati, who simply shines in every scene she’s in, echoing Béatrice Dalle in Betty Blue but in a more approachable and obtainable way and without the madness.

Overall, Frivolous Lola is a wonderfully engaging film that may put some people off by being so sexually explicit but if you understand Tinto Brass and his style of filmmaking then there’s nothing here that will offend as it is all done with a sense of fun, the director not daring you to look but inviting you to join in and become a part of Lola’s journey. A bright and cheerful film that’ll make you smile – what’s so wrong with that?

Frivolous Lola

Special Features: Original trailer, alternate Italian language opening and closing credits, reversible sleeve featuring original and newly designed artwork by The Red Dress, collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Flint, illustrated with original archive stills.

UK Release Date: 10 February 2014

Arrow Films – Website

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