Sunday, January 16, 2011

La Voglia Matta (1962)

It's easy to see why "La Voglia Matta" is considered Catherine Spaak's most iconic role, as she displays an incredible amount of range and energy here: her character gets to swim in various bathing suits, ride a horse, race a go-cart, sit on the hood of a speeding car, jump from one speeding car to another, play the guitar and sing, run circles around a bon fire, and in between all of this, lots of dancing, laughing, and playing.

This is a delightful, expressive, and beautifully-shot comedy following an older man whose car gets stuck when he parks in the sand and ends up at a beach place where he becomes fascinated with and allured by a group of partying teenagers. The teens help him lift the car out of the sand and subsequently invite him into their group to mingle for the day, ultimately teasing the man and squeezing him for money to buy whiskey. Even though he's faced with some kind of nonsense every five minutes, he finds himself so caught up in the youthful zeitgeist that he's unable to break away from the teens, spending the entire afternoon and night with them. Throughout the night and early morning he engages in games, drinking, dancing, and silly rituals, all the while coming out of an awkward exterior to respond with romantic confidence to Spaak's flamboyant flirtations. The film expresses a surprisng amount about its themes of youth and aging with visuals and symbolism in the bittersweet finale.

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