Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lady Liberty (1971)

A comedy that’s almost completely bereft of laughs, Lady Liberty stars the venerable Sophia Loren as an Italian factory worker who travels to New York for a reunion with her fiancé, a fellow Italian who moved to America after stirring up trouble with political activism in Europe. Sophia’s character brings along a large sausage as a gift, but when U.S. Customs officials say she’s not allowed to bring the packaged meat into the country, she takes a principled stand. Then, when her fiancé proves to be a coward and a heel by bowing to American law without a fight and by telling Sophia’s character what to do, Our Heroine finds herself adrift—and at the mercy of various predatory men. Suffice to say the sausage benefits from more character development than any of the people in the movie. Lady Liberty is filled with annoying stereotypes, from the leading character (a hot-blooded signora who seems incapable of rationality) to the supporting characters (a conniving journalist, a mama’s-boy policeman, an opportunistic politician, etc.). Much of the film’s comedy comprises scenes of Loren yelling at people or throwing food at them, and the film’s would-be romantic lead, William Devane, plays such a creep that watching him talk Loren into bed is enough to make the skin crawl. Worse, Lady Liberty is so dissonant that there’s even a joke about the Devane character’s kids holding razors to their wrists and threatening to commit suicide. From start to finish, director Mario Monicelli and his collaborators seem unsure about what sort of film they’re trying to make. At various times, Lady Liberty traffics in feminist propaganda, political satire, romantic musicality, and slapstick. Yet not one of these elements is executed well. Further, the movie needlessly portrays early-’70s New York as being populated solely by narcissistic scumbags. Even the character whom a young Susan Sarandon portrays in one scene is nasty and shrill. Had Loren managed to rise above the fray with effortless charm, Lady Liberty would have been moderately watchable. Alas, that’s not the case—she makes her character seem so impulsive, judgmental, and unhinged that one strains to imagine how any of this looked good on paper.

Lady Liberty: LAME

No comments: