English Title: Theorem
Original Title: Teorema
Language: Italian, English
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Writer: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Music: Ennio Morricone
Cinematography: Giuseppe Ruzzolini
Andrés José Cruz Soublette
Carlo De Mejo
After my bittersweet reaction towards Pasolini’s TRILOGY OF LIFE (1971-1974), I tend to be a little heedful to wade into his canon, so not until vaguely 6 years after, I find a chance to watch his another work of indecipherable philosophy, THEOREM, which is introduced by a wobbly-shot interview in front of a factory and then segues with a silent canto under sepia tint, flickeringly introduces the family members of the story to be told.
The father (Girotti) is the factory owner, with his wife (Mangano), daughter (Wiazemsky), son (Soublette) and the maid (Betty) lives in a stately mansion, one day, arrives a young visitor (Stamp), whose occult charisma and amiable endowment are too glaring to resist, and one after another he seduces all the family members (starts with the maid and ends with the patriarch), then he leaves, but his benedictory actions precipitate the ripple effects which alter everyone’s mindset.
The maid suddenly acquires an ability to cure and even conducts Ascension-like behavior; the daughter suffers from lovesickness and the son gets burgeoning inspiration for his art but also feels being enfettered; the matriarch constantly scouts out young boys for carnal pleasure and the patriarch starts to haunt himself with utter nudism. It’s hard to conceive what’s behind all these esoteric metaphysics after just watched the film once, but it is hardly an engaging one to invite immediate revisiting.
To dissect a Pasolini’s film, its religious overtones are the elephant in the room, is Stamp the God himself or a godsend messenger to endow this quintet with his pansexuality? Another contentious part is how to read the aftermath? Among those five people, only the maid belongs to a lower class, but it is her, seems to possess a supernatural gift eventually, while the bourgeois family is entrapped in respective shackles and the ending shows no way out for any of them. It can be interpreted as a lash on the decaying middle class, only the poor and the proletarians are the beneficiaries from God’s gift.
Morricone’s accompanying score alters from eerie ambient to rich concerto, plus Mozart’s Requiem, stratifies the film’s mythical layers of causes and effects. Stamp’s sex appeal has been magnified to the maximum with a contentious camera faithfully captures his congeniality and deadly smile. Betty is a standout among the recipients, gives an intent thousand-yard stare in her hallowed supremacy. By comparison bigger names like Mangano and Girotti never fully register too much into their slightly hollow revelations, maybe it is all intentionally disposed, and Pasolini remains to be an ineffaceable enigma to me.