A provincial family with some money lives in a big house. Two brothers are epileptic, the mother is blind, the sister acts much more childish than her age (early twenties), and one normal, older brother runs this strange household.
One of the epileptics (Lou Castel) seems sane but gets the idea that if the more unstable elements of the family are eliminated (his mother and a retarded brother), things would be better. He commits both crimes when the chance presents itself. He even seduces his sister, who finally becomes aware of his crimes and is paralyzed in a fall. Now he even thinks of doing away with her.
Director Marco Bellocchio displays expert tact in first laying out this inbred sickly family in their daily unrestrained lives. Film is photographed with sharp definition, with acting extremely well balanced to keep this from falling into only the clinical or shocking.
Castel, a Swedish-Italo youth, has the roughhewn looks to make his character always revealing, sometimes pathetic, disturbing but never gratuitous. Paola Pitagora is a lovely if slightly unbalanced beauty. Others are also fine in this offbeat, sometimes shocking but never forced look at an inverted family that engenders its own doom.