Melissa P.

Melissa P. ½

I know that I have been saying I’ll save my reviews for these expansive, positive celebrations of films that I really connect to, but I’m afraid I actually have to break the silence to spotlight whatever is going on with this otherworldly trainwreck. 

Not only does the film happen to play out like if the European teenage “arthouse” gang got a hold of it fresh out of a screening of Bertolucci’s crap-tastic The Dreamers, but it also manages to play out like some kind of demon child parented by Diary of a Wimpy Kid and... every other more than undesirable school based melodrama. 

This one takes it a step further, though... oh, it takes it a few steps further. It’s important to note first that this film opens with the protagonist as a fifteen year old, and she remains that same age for much of the film. Evidently, this doesn’t bother Luca Guadagnino much at all, and he seems to feel quite comfortable in still making this a film about consistent sexual exploits. It’s creepy to say the least, and only made worse when taken into account the fact that this young girl is treat like some kind of wicked sexual predator, turned this way by an act of sexual assault. Guadagnino’s camera doesn’t really condemn her for being this way. No, instead, Guadagnino presents this girl’s fierce, passive aggressive lust as something for the audience to be thrilled by, framing her encounters with (much) older men as these tense cat-and-mouse games, his camera evocatively following the hands of the men as they creep nearer and nearer to the body of a fifteen year old girl.

Guadagnino shows this pain from sexual rejection as something that is the girl’s fault, and then as something that is exciting and sexually attractive. And seeing as the majority of the film revolves around how this young girl reacts to being sexually harassed, with a light tone other than these small outbursts of melodrama surrounding her family (particularly her father - there is the expected implied blame towards him that she is so determined to attract boys because of issues with her father, or his absence), it’s a little hard to take this as the cautionary tale it seems to think it is. It might be well intentioned - there are moments that seem somewhat positive - but Christ Luca, stop framing fifteen year olds as sexually attractive, stop using the camera to drool over children, stop using melodrama as a way to encourage these kinds of sexual things with children and stop pretending that it is all in the name of being honest. This joins alongside the ranks of Larry Clark and Korine as some of the most disgusting shit I’ve ever seen.

I hope I never see a film where rock music plays as an underage girl has sex with two men who manipulated her into feeling small so she would comply again. Fuck this movie. It only gets worse from there. I won’t ruin it though, mainly because I feel a little too nauseous to actually type out what happens to a fucking child throughout the rest of the film. 

Sure, this does have some vague points to make about how a teenage lack of self esteem can lead to things like this, but Guadagnino is far too busy showing the sex and nudity to ever be bothered to dig into it at all. Maybe his hands were busy elsewhere.

At least there is some high key lighting, soft focus, a shot of a dog and some nice Italian pop music to top it all off.

Piss off.

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