Tinto Brass' 2005 ode to promiscuity and ladies' asses begins with a nice opening shot of a painting on display in the city of Mantua where we are soon introduced to a beautiful young woman named Marta (Anna Jimskaia) whose marriage to husband Dario (Max Parodi) isn't going so well. When we met this couple he's just finished himself off in bed, leaving her unfulfilled and having to take matters into her own hands - which is exactly what she does when she heads out for the day to visit an art gallery. Here she meets Leon (Riccardo Marino), a suave Frenchman who shows and instant attraction to her, something she doesn't get with her husband. They talk and she learns that he's a writer in town for a festival of erotic literature (presided over by the director himself!) and then go at it right there in the gallery. After the pair attend, she gives into Leon's charms and sleeps with him again.
Having had a sexual reawakening of sorts, Marta starts keeping a diary of her exploits and rendezvous' with her new French friend, which ultimately lands her in some hot water with her husband who responds by basically forcing himself on her in an attempt to prove himself to her - something to which she responds quite amiably. Marta soon has to figure out if she really loves Dario and if these selfish mind games she's playing with him are worth continuing or if she wants to end her marriage and move on.
If Brass' films aren't always high on plot, they make up for that with steamy and genuinely erotic sex scenes helped by beautiful compositions, classy camerawork and frequently impressive musical scores. In this department, Monamour is typical Brass fare, but where it differs is with its central female protagonist. Marta isn't a particularly likeable woman - she's selfish and childish and immature and while Dario does indeed mistreat her with his neglect (he should be so lucky to have her!) her behavior often comes across as unjustified and obnoxious. Thankfully, those dependable Brass qualities are here in abundance and so we can look past the fact that Marta is a brat and appreciate the fact that she's gorgeous and seemingly insatiable. While the film stays safely in the realm of softcore erotica, there are times where it pushes a bit and the sex is certainly explicit by North American standards, going far past what would garner and R rating with some exposed genitalia and simulated oral sex (Brass' movies are somewhat notorious for using latex penis' instead of the real thing and this one is no exception).
Beautiful blonde Anna Jimskaia is the real reason to watch this movie and Brass' camera adores her, whether she's having sex on the sly in an art gallery, masturbating with some help from a water tap or trying out lesbian sex with a friend in a massage parlor for the first time. She keeps things hot and heavy and is always framed impeccably so that we can see enough of her to at least let us understand why Leon lusts for her the way that he does. She is, like most of Brass' leading ladies, a stunning natural beauty and her presence, combined with some legitimately effective humor, keep Monamour afloat when it otherwise might start to bog down a bit.
Ultimately the film is a fairly superficial one with a rather mixed up message about how women want to be treated by their men - but it's shot with such flair and features so much glorious cheesecake that you can't help but enjoy it for the sexy (if frequently sexist) take on relationships that it is. Brass has made better and more interesting films to be sure, but Monamour will certainly hold your attention.
Monamour looks considerably better in this AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer from Cult Epics than it did on the DVD release a year or so ago. Colors look considerably more natural and black levels are definitely more solid. Skin tones are also quite pleasing, which is important as there are a lot of them on display here, and detail is much improved as is texture. Compression artifacts are never an issue despite the fact that the movie is presented with a good bit of extra content on a BD25, and the disc is well authored in that there are no problems with anything more than very minor edge enhancement or noise reduction. All in all this is a clean and detailed image which should bode well for future Tinto Brass titles on the format.
Sadly there is no lossless audio option here and instead what we get is a direct port of the audio options that were included on Cult Epics' previous DVD release - a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track in Italian and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks in English and Italian, with optional subtitles in English only. The Italian 5.1 mix is the way to go so long as you don't have an aversion to subtitles as it plays around with some directional effects and the placement of the score very well. It's a shame there wasn't a lossless track made available as the music would probably sound great in DTS-HD but that didn't happen. Regardless, the audio here is well balanced, clean, clear and free of any major problems.
As far as extras go, Monamour gets a decent, if a bit brief, Making Of Featurette that clocks in at just over fifteen minutes and includes some footage of the shoot and interviews with the cast and crew in which they discuss their work on this project. Rounding out the extras on the first disc is a trailer for the film, animated menus and chapter stops. All of the extras on this disc are in standard definition.
A second disc is also included in the packaging which includes Brass' latest short film, Kick The Cock, which is a fun and free spirited fifteen minute vignette in which Brass, more or less playing his horny old self here, watches his incredibly sexy maid (Angelita Franco) as she cleans his house and then masturbates for him. It's not deep but it's shot with Brass' trademark style and penchant for detail and composition and as such is a nice addition to this release. Oddly enough, the second disc includes more extras than the first, all related to Kick The Cock and starting with a thirteen minute Making Of Kick The Cock featurette in which Tinto Brass explains his motivations for this odd little short film and why he wanted to make it in the first place. Also included here is a three minute segment detailing the short's premiere in Venice, a welcome and rather revealing strip tease from Angelita Franco, a three minute bit on a Franco Saudelli comic strip, and a teaser spot for Kick The Cock.
If Monamour isn't on par with Tinto Brass' best work, it still has much to recommend for those who enjoy his highly sexualized style and penchant for comedic storytelling. The film is never short on heat and if the story borrows a few too many elements from Brass' past works, there's enough kink here to help us look past that. Cult Epics has done a great job on this package overall, even if the lack of a lossless option is lamentable, and fans of classy European erotica can consider this one recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.