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Cult Epics’ The Voyeur Blu-ray Release
A film that feels much more akin to an Alain Robbe-Grillet film than in line with what Brass has done before.
Published on December 4, 2015 | Filed under Review
The Voyeur

I have been trying for the better part of a decade to appreciate the work of Tinto Brass. He’s been churning out his particular brand of erotica since the 60s now and I’ve seen nearly all of it, with The Voyeur being one of the last on my list to check out. The closest that I’ve gotten to being outright enamored by something that Brass has done is by what is likely his most abrasive work, 1976’s Salon Kitty. The majority of his oeuvre is rather silly, sort of treading a middle ground between the wacky sexploitation cinema of late period Russ Meyer and the artsier side of erotic cinema by the likes of Radley Metzger and Walerian Borowczyk, with the results often leaning more towards the former. I find the majority of Brass’s work to be alienating and not all that erotic – though he does know how to photograph bodies really well – but I can’t keep myself away nonetheless. And now I’ve finally seen a film from him that I can truly appreciate albeit with reservations.

The Voyeur is decidedly more serious in nature than a lot of the other Brass films (though, I will be the first to admit that it may very well be I who just couldn’t take them seriously) working as a bleak character drama as well as a piece of glossy erotica. As the title makes apparent, the story revolves around voyeurism with the titular voyeur being Dodo (Francesco Casale) who really likes to watch. Dodo may as well just be a substitute for Brass, really. The “watching” here isn’t all inherently sexual either, Dodo likes to spy; on his wife and even his father. Brass’s film ends up being as much about scopophilia as surveillance, pre-dating the surge of films that would come out about or regarding the topic later in the 1990s such as Lost Highway, Enemy of the State, Gattaca or The Truman Show. Granted, The Voyeur is a much smaller film than any of those and targeted at a very specific, niche audience but the scope of its narrative is a lot bigger than its marketing or filmmaker’s previous work would suggest.

The Voyeur

But, beyond that, The Voyeur is about sex. And there’s plenty of that. This Blu-ray from Cult Epics presents the film in its uncut form and it shows. Full nudity is plentiful and we do see various types of penetration. However, Brass’s penchant for using prosthetic cocks remains and it’s distracting at times, especially in very clear HD. Luckily, the film is so well shot by Brass regular Massimo Di Venanzo that you’ll see them fleetingly and the sex is never relegated to one shot let alone the clinical close-ups that have become paramount in contemporary erotic cinema. And it is erotic. I tend to have a difficult time getting invested enough in Brass films to find the erotic elements legitimately stimulating, but it works here. The result of which feels much more akin to an Alain Robbe-Grillet film than in line with what Brass has done before. The Voyeur may not be Brass’s best film – I still prefer Salon Kitty – but it showcases his talents and manages to be an impressively prescient drama as well as a polished piece of 90s erotic cinema.

Cult Epics have brought The Voyeur to Blu-ray following a DVD releases from a few years back. It’s a nice looking transfer though I must say that I never saw the DVD and can’t compare. I don’t know what the source used was, but it is very clean and a nice layer of film grain is inherent throughout. The image tends to be on the soft side but that has more to do with the look of Brass films than with the transfer itself. Audio is only in the form of 2.0 English or Italian, with no lossless option available. The audio is solid enough though, with dialogue and music coming through clear. I personally preferred the Italian track as it just sounds better, but it’ll likely be a matter of preference.┬áThe only major extra here is a 23 minute interview with Brass which discusses the film, people he worked with and sexual politics and morals. It’s an engaging talk and I would definitely have welcomed more of it. Also included is a stills gallery and a bunch of trailers for Brass films, The Voyeur included.

The Voyeur

It took about ten years but I have finally found the Tinto Brass film that makes me want to pay closer attention to his work. The Voyeur is handsome, contemplative erotic cinema that may actually have more to say than it appears to at face value. Cult Epics have presented it in a new HD transfer and in its uncut form. Brass fans should undoubtedly pick this one up and I’d at least recommend a rental for everyone else.

Justin LaLiberty holds degrees in film preservation from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and film studies from Keene State College. He is the Creative Manager at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers and is an itinerant projectionist, ready to run reels if you’ve got ’em.

Justin LaLiberty

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