Drama, Romance

Stay As You Are (1978)

Comments Off on Stay As You Are (1978) 11 October 2015

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Studio: Cult Epics

Theatrical Release: September 14, 1978 (Italy)

Blu Ray Release: May 12, 2015

Director: Alberto Lattuada

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

Watching Stay As You Are was like watching an Italian Woody Allen film. That simple description/warning should give you an idea on how much you will like this film. Allen’s films have always split audiences with either “love it” or “hate it” attitudes. As for myself, Allen’s films range from masterpiece (Crimes and Misdemeanors) to utter garbage (Whatever Works). Stay As You Are, directed by Alberto Lattuada is a mixture of both types of Allen films leaving the viewer with a sort of empty feeling.

Marcello Mastroianni stars as Giulio, a middle aged architect and landscaper whose only passion is his profession. Being in a heated divorce and with the announcement that his teenage daughter is now pregnant, Giulio makes his life even more difficult when he meets Francesca (the gorgeous Nastassja Kinski) a college student whose also a free-will, wild child. She’s a woman not afraid to flirt with men and thus, lead them on. Basically, a cock tease. Giulio offers Francesca a ride to the bus station after meeting her while on the job.

As the film progresses and the two form a bond together, it is believed that she is the daughter of a woman Giulio used to date 20 years ago and that Francesca could ultimately be his daughter. While both Giulio and Francesca know of their situation, the two still fall in love with one another and begin to have an affair despite what could be an incestual relationship. But it is Francesca who asks Giulio the question: what makes a father? Is Giulio really a father to her since he was not in her life while she grew up?

While I like the tragic theme of a man’s mid-life crisis and the thoughts and feelings of regret along with admiration of someone younger who has their whole life ahead of them, it was difficult for me to get past their relationship since these two lovers could be related. Even stranger, Giulio’s daughter is actually fine with her father’s new love interest.

I would have preferred a much more dramatic film of a man fighting back his feelings of lust for this young woman instead of giving in to his sexual urges. Once that moment happens, I lost all sympathy towards Giulio, even during the film’s bittersweet climax. While I think Mastroianni is a wonderful actor and portrayed Giulio quite well, I couldn’t identify nor even care what happened to him after he knowingly makes love to a woman who could be his daughter. I won’t even get into the bizarre moment where he bites her ass and she gets him to drink her own urine.

I do want to give a shout out to the film’s beautiful score by the always magnificent Ennio Morricone. This sad and haunting score helped elevate this film. Similar to his score for Once Upon a Time in America, Morricone’s music is one of the film’s biggest highlights (along with full frontal nudity by the never bashful Kinski).

While Cult Epics have released some amazing blu ray’s in the past, their release of Stay As You Are was shockingly disappointing. First off, the image is presented at 1:78:1 ratio and during the opening credit sequence, title cards are almost off frame. According to imdb, the film was shot in a 1:85:1 ratio, which begs me to ask the question: what happened here? The image is also pretty lousy. Colors are washed out, the image is fuzzy at times with no detail. There are moments where the image shakes during transitions which was maybe the biggest complaint I had.

The viewer is given the option to watch Stay As You Are in both a dubbed 2.0 stereo track or in the original Italian 2.0 stereo track. Of course I watched the film in Italian, however Kinski’s voice is still dubbed so she must have shot the film speaking in her native German tongue. Please note, while viewing the film in Italian, the subtitles are at times misspelled, providing the viewer with some unintentional laughs.

Rounding out the special features is an isolated score, a trailer for Tinto Brass’ Black Angel and a new trailer for Stay As You Are which was made for this blu ray release, not the original theatrical trailer. Quite disappointing coming from Cult Epics.

Movie Rating: ★★½☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★½☆☆☆

 

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