The life of a family changes drastically after a few days long visit from a mysterious stranger. This man gives them something they didn't know they needed and now that he is gone they can't live normal lives anymore. Who was this stranger and what did he do to them that made them so desperate to be with him?
My first and, before this, only visit into the work of Pier Paolo Pasolini has been "Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom". It was a flick that I sought out around the time I started watching films that weren't available in my local small town stores, and more importantly it was when I began looking for titles considered shocking and disturbing. And "Salò" was one of the first films I found during this search a bunch of years back. Never being a fan of the film for many different reasons, I never felt I had to get through any more of his work, even though films such as "The Canterbury Tales" and "Porcile" have peaked a bit of interest in more recent time. I received this review copy of "Teorema" from Studio S Entertainment and let it sleep on the shelf for a long time. Not because I didn't want to watch it. Not at all, but because I had not seen more than one of his films I didn't feel certified to review it. I know squat about the man and his cinematic world, if he ever had one of his own (some directors really create their own world and more than one film is needed to get into that, such as Ingmar Bergman). As time went by I finally figured I'd just watch it and if I felt that I didn't have a real opinion on it, I'd watch a few more of his films and then write the review. Now that I have watched it I don't feel that is necessary at all. "Teorema" is a pretty open and easy film and it required little to no previous exploration into the work of Pasolini.
A handsome stranger (played by none other than Terence Stamp) stays with a family for a few days and during his stay he has many intimate moments with the family members. In a way, he gives them what they need in his mysterious seductions. The day before leaving he tells the family about it and they become concerned with how they'd manage themselves if he leaves. When all is said and done, the man is gone from their lives, and they all begin to act weird. The daughter falls into a sort of coma, the brother starts to create strange art, the mother sleeps around, the father gets rid of his factory, and then we have the maid who seems to fall into a sort of acceptance and being the only one that reacts positively to the visitor's departure.
Now, it's been discussed to death who this stranger might be and it's pretty clear by now that we're talking about someone Godlike. Maybe not necessarily our God, it could even be the Devil, but the family is without a doubt visited by a supernatural force of some kind. Or at least that's the meaning behind the film. Pasolini has left it open for the audience himself. Either way, the film's focus is on how people react differently after being near a force of this kind. To grasp this is easy, it's kinda forced down our throats through the movie. The movie has a meaning and it has a destination, and that's good. My problem with the movie is that it has such a straight line to where it wants to go that it becomes very pseudo-intellectual in way and leaves me none the wiser. There's no revelation for the viewer and I was just left empty. And I don't mean that in the emotional aspect where empty means it left me thinking and trying to figure things out - this one left me completely without thoughts because I already felt all was answered and shown. To me that was very disappointing. I don't know if the movie has something more that I didn't get on the initial viewing, but the story-telling didn't leave me wanting to dig deeper.
Often being hailed as a visually intriguing film, I must say that there were few scenes that I found to be anything worth noticing. I mean, by no means does it have poor cinematography - quite the opposite. But good doesn't cut it, not when we're talking about these sort of films. Again I want to mention Ingmar Bergman, his films are hits and misses but there's always something worthwhile in the visuals alone.
"Teorema" misses that little extra that catches my attention when I look for films of this kind. It's not a bad movie at all, it just left me not really caring. I don't know if I would call the story well-told or not, because while I did think it was easy to follow the movie and it explained everything well, I think really great storytelling would've left me with a lot more thoughts in my head. I haven't seen much from Pier Paolo Pasolini but so far I haven't been impressed by his work. I've expected too much from him. If I end up with one of his films in my hand again I will watch it. Until then I think there are plenty of other directors out there with much more intriguing stories, depths and eye candy to show me.