The Seed of Discord

A deliriously camp spectacle reveling in mid-1960s aesthetics, "The Seed of Discord" is Pappi Corsicato's return to the over-the-top stylizations that made his earlier films such fun.

With:
With: Caterina Murino, Alessandro Gassman, Martina Stella, Michele Venitucci, Valeria Fabrizi, Isabella Ferrari, Iaia Forte, Monica Guerritore, Angelo Infanti, Rosalia Porcaro, Lucilla Agosti, Eleonora Pedron.

A deliriously camp spectacle reveling in mid-1960s aesthetics, “The Seed of Discord” is Pappi Corsicato’s return to the over-the-top stylizations that made his earlier films such fun. Often compared to Pedro Almodovar, Corsicato lacks the Spanish helmer’s emotional depth or his mastery of construction, instead leaning toward John Waters with a healthy dash of late-period Lana Turner, and now Pamela Tiffin. Tale of a woman learning she’s pregnant just when her fertilizer-salesman hubby discovers he’s sterile may see decent home biz, while offshore play will depend on specialty fests and niche arthouses.

To paraphrase the old tagline from Levy’s Jewish Rye Bread: You don’t have to be gay to love “The Seed of Discord.” But it wouldn’t hurt. Corsicato claims inspiration from Heinrich von Kleist’s tale “The Marquise of O … ,” though he’s certainly queering the pitch: A very Almodovar opening, full of beautifully proportioned women in tight, colorful dresses bouncing along to ’60s music, sets a tone that stays fairly consistent throughout the short running time.

Luscious Veronica (Caterina Murino) works in a dress shop with her mother, Luciana (Valeria Fabrizi), and dreams of opening a concept store.

Marriage with Mario (Alessandro Gassman) is less than passionate, though he’s doing plenty of seeding with his female clients. When Veronica discovers she’s pregnant, Mario learns he’s shooting duds. A distraught Veronica can’t image how she could have been inseminated, until she remembers the night she was mugged and woke up to find her rescuer, kindly security guard Gabriele (Michele Venitucci), solicitously helping her back home.

The problem with the constant comparisons to Almodovar is that Corsicato’s films never get taken on their own merits, which (except for his last feature, the stiff “Chimera”) revel in outrageous visual puns and broad winks to movies of an earlier era. While Corsicato’s problem has been an inability to sustain, um, a climax, his camp sensibilities, treating sex as both banal and funny, create plenty of laughs for his deliberately cartoonish characters. Some auds, however, may find the jocular treatment of rape offensive, a charge hard to argue with.

Murino, who made such an impression in “Don’t Think About It,” gives Veronica a hard-edged, sympathetically vapid quality, akin to a postmodern Luciana Paluzzi — just the kind of woman to down her pills with Cointreau. Gassman, too, has fun, as does Isabella Ferrari as Veronica’s best friend Monique, coping with yelling kids and a screamingly gay son.

Great color overlays recall pop films from the 1960s, and art director Antonio Farina deserves an award for his spot-on, madcap interiors. Corsicato fills his soundtrack with music from schlock films of the psychedelic era, sampling Morricone, Luis Bacalov and Robby Poitevin.

The Seed of Discord

Italy

Production: A Medusa release of a Rodeo Drive production, in association with Medusa Film, Sky. Produced by Marco Poccioni, Marco Valsania. Directed by Pappi Corsicato. Screenplay, Corsicato, in association with Massimo Gaudioso.

Crew: Camera (color), Ennio Guarnieri; editor, Giogio Franchini; music, Pino Donaggio; production designer, Antonio Farina; costume designer, Maria Grazia Colombini; sound (Dolby Digital), Silvia Moraes; assistant director, Davide Bertoni; casting, Pino Pellegrino. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 4, 2008. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Caterina Murino, Alessandro Gassman, Martina Stella, Michele Venitucci, Valeria Fabrizi, Isabella Ferrari, Iaia Forte, Monica Guerritore, Angelo Infanti, Rosalia Porcaro, Lucilla Agosti, Eleonora Pedron.

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