Marianne is not supposed to be talking while recovering; Paul is a reticent fellow, and Penelope is sulky, so Harry (Feinnes) has as much dialog as the other three put together. Harry is a manic personality, seeming determined to be the life of the party even if no one else wants a party. He’s also an incessant manipulator, wheedler and grifter. When you notice that his blizzard of verbiage includes frequent digs at Paul, and references to the “good old days” when, coincidently, he and Marianne were together, that his purpose becomes clear. Marianne and Paul think they know Harry, and think they owe Harry, and so are inclined to tolerate his presence. We viewers, not burdened with that baggage, can quickly tell that Harry is using his verbal tools to try to drive wedges between Paul and Marianne so that he can get Marianne back. Further, he’s brought Penelope along in order to try to distract Paul while he does it.
The movie is a complex and multilayered story of seduction, misdirection, and desperation. Lushly photographed, the film contrasts the austere beauty of Pantelleria, with the sensuous bodies and lifestyles of the characters. All of the main characters have nude or semi-nude scenes, tastefully done and in context, though definitely adult. Again, the narcissistic Harry has the most and longest scenes, including the “full Monty”. (Fortunately, Mr. Feinnes has a pretty good body, especially for a 52-year old man--.)
The plot works out to a tragic climax, redeemed by an ironic and timely twist ending. Highly recommended for adult viewers with a taste for drama.
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