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Be warned. Cranky is on the record as not particularly enjoying "romance" genre movies. Then again, there's very little romance in Stealing Beauty, the story of Lucy (Liv Tyler), a beautiful American girl's summer trip to the Italian countryside. There she hopes to discover the true identity of the man who sired her, and to meet again with the boy who gave her her first kiss (at age 15). Now, four years later, she fantasizes giving him the rest of her. The other residents of the villa in which she stays take great delight in the prospect of this young thing losing her virginity, and encourage her in her quest for the right man.
Those residents include a feeble minded old man (Jean Marais -- a superstar of French cinema, known to Cranky for his performance in Jean Cocteau's classic Beauty and the Beast); an entertainment lawyer with his eye on Lucy, and his mistress; the sculptor and his wife, owners of the villa, and their eight year old daughter; and a dying writer (Jeremy Irons) who becomes a father figure to Lucy. There's also a couple of very pretty raving heterosexual boys for Liv to choose from.
What tidbits of interest there are in Bertolucci's flick will go unreported, for telling them to you will take what little fun there is in Stealing Beauty out of your enjoyment of the movie.
This is the kind of movie that makes men quiver in their boots. It is the kind of "date" movie that the women in the audience wanted to see, and which offers the guys the prospect of a view of the now-legal Liv Tyler's naked body. A very minor, fleeting glance by the way.
I'd love to say more, but there isn't much to say. Lucy is not driven to find her father. It's an interesting wish and she is pretty much prodded into the search by the dying writer, but the character admits she really could live without the knowledge.
Honestly? I was almost bored into sleep.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Stealing Beauty, he would have paid . . .
On the plus side, Cranky will say that if he had his virginity to lose over again, the Italian countryside would be a lovely place to do it. As I wrote above, it's a lovely travelogue.
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