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Monday, December 12, 2011
The Beauty of Sin
Lepota poroka; erotic drama, Montenegro, 1986; D: Živko Nikolić, S: Mira Furlan, Milutin Karadžić, Petar Bozović, Alain Noury, Ines Kotman, Mira Banjac, Jasna Beri
In the Montenegrin hinterland, some villages are still rigidly conservative and the tradition is that a husband kills his wife with a mallet if she cheats on him. One such rural couple, Jaglika and Luka, decide to follow the invitation of their relative Đorđ in order to find a job along the liberal coastline. Đorđ turns out to be a notorious con-artist who cheats on his wife and even fires Luka while Jaglika finds a job as a housemaid in a nudist resort. There she befriends a nude English couple who awaken her extroverted side. Back in the village, Jaglika admits to Luka that she cheated on him, but he does not kill her.
After the authority of censors started to deplete in the 80s, the Yugoslav cinema slowly started to catch up with the European trend of erotic dramas, vividly represented with Pasolini's trilogy of life that started with "The Decameron", Vadim's "And God Created Woman", Luna's "Ham Ham" and others. Zivko Nikolic's "The Beauty of Sin" does not have an artistic authority, but it is surprisingly honest, avoiding "cheap flesh" in favour of a more-or-less even presentation of a shy, conservative woman, Jaglika, slowly awakening her untrammelled passionate side in the middle of a nudist resort. In this edition, the "fish out of water" story is a gentle rubbing of a collision of two opposite worldviews - the conservative and liberal wing - whereas Nikolic shows the effects of both of their negative extremes - bigotry and decadence. The film needed more humor and at least three more truly skillful sequences (one of the rare examples that prove otherwise is when the shy heroine, working as a housemaid, is surprised to encounter a couple lying naked on bed, so the wife makes a humorous remark: "Maybe we should wear clothes until she gets accustomed to us.") yet it enjoys the reputation of a cult classic for some examples of sophisticated erotic (the sole scene where Luka finds himself in the room with a naked prostitute with large breasts but freaks out and runs away is a favourite among the fans of such genre), aesthetic images of beach and the wonderful character of Jaglika - she is basically the only fully circled out character, so the viewers can truly easily identify with her whereas Mira Furlan plays her wonderfully sincere.