Italian director Tinto Brass (of Caligula fame) is considered the 'king of European erotic cinema'. And while it's true his films are erotic in nature it's also true that they are often not too well written or directed. Such is the case with The Key.
On the surface the story – adapted from a famous Japanese novel – is a good one but do to the static nature of the acting, the voice dubbing and the rather flat directing style (even in the bedroom scenes) the film is not of much interest.
The basic story is about a married couple Nino (Frank Finlay) and Teresa (Stefania Sandrelli) living in 1940's Italy who have just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. In order to bring a spark into their relationship they both start keeping a diary, which they both read and share their personal sexual thoughts and desires.
Nino, who is almost 20 years older than Teresa, finds out that she is attracted to his daughter's fiancé Lazlo (Franco Branciaroli). Nino sets out a plan to take nude photos of Theresa and have Lazlo develop them, which he hopes will turn him on to his wife.
Sure enough Theresa becomes sexually liberated but all her attention begins to go toward Lazlo rather than Nino. And soon Nino is taken sick leaving the viewer to wonder if he is dying from a broken heart or a lack of sex.
Audio quality is poor. The volume needs to be turned way up in order to hear the bad English dubbing.
The picture quality is good and presented in 1.66:1. There are some scratches evident in the print that was used but otherwise the transfer is very sharp and clean.
The only real extra is a twenty minute Interview with Tinto Brass in which Tinto tells in frank and humorous terms his directing methods and ideas about sex in the cinema.
The Key is an okay semi-porn drama about love, sex games and ultimately betrayal. It's well acted but is hampered by a lackluster pace and bad English dubbing.