The Key (1983)

DVD Cover (Cult Epics)
Genres: Romance, Sexploitation, Softcore Sex Film
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Tinto Brass Tinto Brass
Frank Finlay Frank Finlay
Stefania Sandrelli Stefania Sandrelli
Franco Branciaroli Franco Branciaroli
Barbara Cupisti Barbara Cupisti
Maria Grazia Bon Maria Grazia Bon

5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: October 23, 2006
It's time once again for a little sexploitation sleaze on this site, and what better way to get in the mood than with the movie that is widely credited with being the definitive film in the genre? Indeed, that is the sort of praise that has been showered on tonight's release, and thanks to having both volumes of the Tinto Brass collection sitting on my desk, I decided to see if it lived up to those claims.

Nino (Frank Finlay) and Teresa (Stefania Sandrelli) have fallen into a bit of a slump with their marriage, and to be more specific, their sex life. Not helping matters is the fact that Nino is quite a bit older than his relatively young wife, and to complicate matters even more, Teresa is a bit of a prude in the bedroom. Nino decides to write down his feelings about the situation in his diary, and hoping that it'll help open her eyes to the situation, he leaves the key to his desk laying out in plain view so that Teresa will assuredly stumble across it and read his thoughts about the current state of affairs. She begins to keep a diary as well, and taking a cue from her husband's little game, she leaves it out so that he may read her replies to the things that he has written about their relationship.

One night, their daughter Lisa (Barbara Cupisti) and her husband Laszlo (Franco Branciaroli) come over for some wine and dinner. Everyone at the table drinks a little more than they should have, but Teresa in particular consumed more than her fair share and ended up passing out as a result. Nino calls the family doctor, and due to some sort of medical condition, the doctor tells them that they need to inject her with some sort of shot. However, a problem arises when it seems that everyone has had too much to drink and they're all far too shaky to give Teresa the injection... everyone, that is, with the exception of Laszlo. Nino agrees to let him do it, and since the injection has to be done through the ass (Brass is a fanatic ass man, let me tell you), Laszlo gets a full view of all of his mother-in-law's nether regions. Nino is a bit jealous of this, but he soon finds that this jealousy is exactly the type of thing that will spice up their relationship, and with that in mind, he drops hints and gives his wife plenty of opportunities to "have a little fun" with their son-in-law... and she jumps at the opportunity.

So then, was this the definitive sexploitation film that everyone makes it out to be? I can't answer that as I'm far from an expert on the subject, but I can say that it was definitely one of the better offerings that I've seen from the genre. What I enjoyed most about this was the fact that it strays away from the normal sexploitation fare of stringing along endless sex scenes with a flimsy story. Indeed, this is all about the story, and while there are some pretty explicit scenes to be found here, the main focus is never set on merely giving the viewer a cheap thrill. Speaking of the story, the one that you get from this release is actually pretty solid and enjoyable. It moves along at a pace that is leisurely enough to let the viewer get sucked in, but it never slows down enough to let said viewer grow bored or want to fast-forward.

Further helping the case of this film is the excellent eye of Tinto Brass, and although the locations found throughout the running time are kept to a minimum, there are some really gorgeous settings to be found. Shot almost entirely in Venice, Italy, we're treated to numerous displays of this beautiful city, and this is made all the better thanks to Brass' attention to detail and knowledge of how to best shoot a scene. His usage of mirrors in his films has been well-noted, and there are more than a couple of scenes found here that show why that has become a bit of a director trademark for him. Watch, for example, how the majority of an entire scene is shown through the reflection of numerous mirrors in a single room and how this transforms what could have been a fairly mundane scene into something particularly memorable. The whole mirror trick is nothing new, of course, but it's used perfectly in this film.

This one is definitely worth a viewing for fans of the genre or for those who simply enjoy a good romance movie and can tolerate both male and female nudity. Again, I won't go on record as saying it's the definitive film from the genre, but I will say that it ranks pretty high up there. 8/10.
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