THE KEY is another erotic drama from one of the kings of the genre, Tinto Brass. It's a film which is all about sex, sex, and more sex, with little plot otherwise, although the characterisation is better fleshed out than I imagined. The film has a classy, well-shot look which lifts it above sleazier movies by the likes of Jess Franco, but there's not much content and it does feel repetitive. It also feels a lot like one of the Japanese erotic movies that have been popular for the last fifty years. Frank Finlay is a surprise presence in this film; this British character actor is the last person you'd expect to see baring all for such a production, but there he is. Stefania Sandrelli gives the stand-out turn in a very explicit performance that must have been a real test of nerve for the actress.
As the rise of the Italian Fascism makes its visible presence in noble 1940s Venice, Professor Nino Rolfe and his much younger wife, the sumptuous Italian beauty, Teresa, sadly, after twenty years of marriage, witness their enthusiasm wither and the passion wane. Inevitably, all that remains now, is to let his imagination run wild and confess his boldly intimate and rousing thoughts to his elaborate diary, in the hope that Teresa will soon find it and read it. There, in his frank and unrestricted confessions, against all risk of being judged as a vile and corrupt man, Nino would admit all the things that he would never be able to say in person, urging his Goddess Teresa to finally get rid of her painful and revolting modesty. The faithful diary may be locked away in safety but the precious key is hidden in plain sight. Will innocent Teresa ever discover it, and with it, the way to unlock what quickens the faint, yet willing heart?
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