Thursday 22 February 2024

Miranda (1985)

Miranda is a 1985 movie by Tinto Brass which you could describe as an erotic comedy/romance.

Tinto Brass has certainly had an interesting career. In the 60s and early 70s he had very respectable art-house credentials, even being compared to Antonioni. Then in 1976 came Salon Kitty which ignited something of a firestorm of controversy. Which was nothing compared to the hysteria which greeted his next film, Caligula. At that point he seems to have decided to make the movies he wanted to make and to make them the way he wanted to make them.

He also decided to concentrate almost exclusively on erotic films. That meant being shunned by critics (especially in the Anglophone world) and losing his respectable art-house credentials. He doesn’t seem to care one little bit.

Miranda takes place in the 1950s. Miranda (Serena Grandi) runs an inn. She is, or was, married but her husband was missing in action during the war and is presumed dead.

Miranda likes men and would like to meet that one special guy with whom to share her life but a girl has to be sure of her choice. The best way is to have affairs with lots and lots of men. Having affairs with three or four men at the same time is no great strain for her.

Carlo, who is more or less the assistant manger of the inn, is very keen on her. She isn’t sure if she’s interested in marrying him. Perhaps when she finds the time to try him out in the bedroom she’ll be in a position to choose.

There’s a wealthy politician who would very much like to marry her. He’s much older but he is rich and he’s rather nice and he’s devoted to her.

The arrival of Norman, a young American in the area temporarily while working on a construction project, offers her another potential choice.

That’s pretty much it for the plot.

It’s played as farce and in a very good-natured way. It’s a fun movie. It has no axes to grind. This is not going to be an exercise in misery or self-pity or guilt.

Brass’s erotic movies from the early 80s on tend to be joyous celebrations of sex. And of the charms of the female body. Brass is notorious for his fondness for actresses with amply-proportioned posteriors but the rest of the female body is certainly not neglected.

The movie opens with a close-up of Serena Grandi’s crotch and she’s not wearing any panties. Brass is laying his cards on the table right from the get-go. He’s saying that if this shot bothers you then you should switch the movie off and go watch something else.

It’s a celebration of the female body but it’s also a celebration of female erotic pleasure. Miranda is very much in touch with, and comfortable with, her sexual desires. She feels no shame about sex and the movie never suggests that a woman should feel shame about satisfying her sexual urges. At no time is she punished for her carnal indulgences. There’s a total absence of moralising about sex. To the extent that there’s any message in this film it’s that sex is normal and healthy. That might seem an obvious point but it’s a point that has never been obvious to censors or to film critics.

Miranda is a movie that revels in its celebration of sex and of sensual pleasures in general.

Brass was always a visually uninhibited director and Miranda looks lush and rich. There’s a lot of very explicit nudity and some fairly explicit sex scenes. It’s softcore, but it’s at the raunchy end of softcore. On the other hand the nude scenes and sex scenes have a lyrical playful quality to them.

Serena Grandi is voluptuous in a way that was already becoming unfashionable but that gives the movie an authentically Tinto Brass feel. That’s Brass’s idea of feminine beauty and if you don’t like it that’s too bad. She gives a wonderful performance. Miranda is a character who might have been played as manipulative in other movies but there’s nothing manipulative about her in this film. She doesn’t want to use men. She wants to share fun times with them. She’s a very likeable character.

This is also an uncompromisingly Italian movie, a love letter to the Italy of the past.

Miranda is lighthearted and sexy and stylish and Tinto Brass’s erotic movies have a unique flavour of their own. Highly recommended.

Miranda has had numerous home video releases. The version in the excellent Fifty Shades of Brass DVD boxed set offers a lovely 16:9 enhanced transfer. Both the English dub and the Italian language version with English subtitles are provided. Given that the set also includes Salon Kitty and The Voyeur it’s worth buying.

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