Directed By: Radley Metzger
Starring: Silvana Venturelli, Frank Wolff, Erika Remberg
Tag line: "Beyond the physical edge..."
Trivia: The working title of this film was Hide and Seek
As he did with 1975’s The Image, director Radley Metzger merges eroticism with an art-house mentality in The Lickerish Quartet, creating a motion picture that challenges our perceptions of what is real, and what's merely an illusion.
As the story opens, A Man (Frank Wolff), his Wife (Erika Remberg) and her Son (Paolo Turco) are in the main room of their 700-year-old castle, screening a black and white pornographic film. The Man and His Wife are enjoying the movie, but the Son is disgusted, and leaves. The Man and his Wife decide to go with him, and the three pay a visit to a small traveling carnival. While there, they spot a young woman (Silvana Venturelli) who looks identical to the actress in the adult film they were just watching. Intrigued, they invite her back to the castle, hoping to catch the embarrassment on her face when they start the film up again. But to their surprise, the movie has changed, and now features a different actress. Nevertheless, they ask the girl to spend the night, and the next day, she will seduce each member of the family, helping them live out their most intense sexual fantasies.
The Lickerish Quartet makes great use of its impressive locale by staging a number of memorable scenes throughout the castle (an actual 14th-century fortress situated in the mountains just outside of Rome). Each sexual encounter between the girl and one of the family members takes place in a different setting; the husband succumbs to her charms in the library, the son in the great outdoors, and the wife in the main room. Each rendezvous is gorgeously shot, which only adds to the sensuality of it all (the tryst with the wife is especially stimulating, alternating between color and black and white as it recreates many moments from the film they were watching the night before).
The Lickerish Quartet may come off as a bit too smug for some viewers. Metzger kicks things off with a quote from Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author” (“..all this present reality of yours – is fated to seem a mere illusion to you tomorrow…”), and there’s even a scene where the son puts on a magic show for the family’s honored guest, quipping that “Magic is easy; it’s reality that’s hard”. I can’t say I completely understand the movie, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying it, and even if, in the final scheme of things, his characters and their story remain somewhat elusive, there’s no denying Metzger has created what amounts to a beautiful soft-core film.