Starring: Saro Urzi, Stefania Sandrelli, Aldo Puglisi
Director: Pietro Germi
Running Time: 118 mins
Seduced And Abandoned (Sedotta e abbandonata) is an Italian film about a father who, after discovering his daughter has been left pregnant by a family friend, sets out on a manic search for the man.
I wouldn’t call this movie a laugh-a-minute farce of a comedy, given that it’s actually quite a lot darker and grittier than it seems to let on, but it does have an enjoyable manic sense of humour that ramps up the silly factor as it goes along, centred around a hilariously highly-strung performance from Saro Urzi as he desperately tries to rescue his family’s honour following the discovery of his daughter’s pregnancy.
We have to start, however, with the film’s opening act, which is a rather strange and unexpectedly heavy-going way to begin a film that seems like it’s meant to be a lot funnier than it is. That’s not to say the humour in the opening act is poor, but given that the film starts off with a young woman being violated, and then being repeatedly chastised by her family as the man who committed the crime is off doing his own thing, it’s all a little too dark and gritty to really find much opportunity to laugh at.
Of course, times are different and the topic wasn’t taken as seriously at the time this film was made, which is why so many rather dark themes are taken so lightly, but it’s still difficult to really get into the funnier side of this movie at the beginning, particularly as it centres on the rather heavy emotional suffering of this young woman in the opening stages.
On the flipside, however, the film does offer up some interesting themes and ideas that, while not always quite fitting for a comedy, do make for an engrossing watch throughout. The diminutive and submissive role of women in society makes for fascinating and equally depressing watching, while on the slightly lighter side of things, the film touches on the unavoidable world of gossip and social standing in small-town life.
And that’s where the funnier side to Seduced And Abandoned comes in. While it starts off in intriguing but unfittingly heavy-going fashion, the story shifts its focus from the suffering of the daughter to the stress of the father, as he desperately tries to hunt down the man who committed the crime, as well as salvage the honour of his family in the meantime. Once that happens, the lighter-hearted vibe is much more palatable, and the film begins to ramp up the silliness factor to ridiculous levels.
Saro Urzi’s performance plays a big role in the growing mania of the story, as his increasingly flustered, embarrassed and desperate character goes to extreme lengths to get his way. However, given that he’s not working entirely out of selfishness, and more for the benefit/honour of his family, as well as Urzi’s likably manic on-screen persona, he never proves an annoying or distasteful lead, and instead helps the film on its way to a hugely funny and crazed finale.
Overall, I enjoyed Seduced And Abandoned, both as a silly comedy – once it gets to that point – as well as an engrossing and uncharacteristically gritty drama. It definitely doesn’t blend the lighter and darker sides of its key themes together well, but it does offer up interesting ideas and entertaining humour throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.