Key, The (UK - BD RB)
Marcus re-enters the world of Cult Erotica in this Tinto Brass Blu-ray...
1940. Nino (Frank Finlay) is terrified of losing his wife Teresa (Stefania Sandrelli) because he feels that he cannot satisfy her sexually. Deciding he needs to spice things up a little bit, he begins secretly taking erotic photographs of his wife and getting a man, he knows she finds attractive to develop them. Reading Teresa’s diary, Nino follows the affair he has created and in turn Teresa reads Nino's diary on the subject adding to the excitement. The tables begin to turn for the married couple when Teresa starts to become more sexually driven and Nino begins to fall behind as he realises how far his plans have gone.
With my voyage through cult erotic films continuing courtesy of Arrow’s latest line of Blu-rays, I leave the 70s behind and hit he 80s. 1983 to be exact. Tinto Brass’s film delves into the world of erotica and the twisted paths it can take. It’s fuelled with secret desires of course has the staple erotic theme - man's fixation with the female form.
The deeper the story travels the more perversions, fantasies and how desire can change a person is toyed with. It's not long before this rather dark tale of love and sex and how a married couple spicing things up a bit can corrupt them both highlights how the tongue in cheek nature approach to sex in erotic films of the 70s had begun to make way for a much darker, behind closed doors approach to sex on film in the 80s.
The sex scenes are actually quite brief here to begin with (initially for a reason), and as the soft core, semi graphic “art house” feel to the scenes expand, the realms of on film erotica are explored and the sexual growth of Teresa is unleashed the more confident she becomes with her situation.
The presentation here is pale and sort of lifeless to look at. A dash or red and blue pop out of the screen from time to time but this fairly clean image is loaded with drab 40s styles and that means the abundance of greys, beige and rather dull colours generally reduce the effect of this HD presentation somewhat.
Deep black suits show off the almost solid black levels the transfer has to offer but every now and again the odd tint of blue or a more lacklustre grey takes the edge off a little. Skin tones are natural but a tad waxy in places and darker moments like the Teresa peeing quite heavily in an alley scene gets far grubbier (so to speak).
Really, it’s the film’s softness and lack of rich detail that holds everything back and when lighting is sparse grain envelopes the image and gives everything a gritty appearance reducing a great deal of detail and the screen's texture goes from clean but lifeless to just a bit dingy. There also seems to be a bluish tint to the frame, especially in the day lit scenes but this seems entirely intentional when it’s at its most blue.
The stereo track is central but still layered. There’s not a great deal of excuse to push the track’s boundaries but the opening scene in a 1940s club with a live band and plenty of chatter is about as lively as it gets.
Beyond that it’s really only dialogue and the slightly crisper voice overs being read from diary pages. There’s a bit of a sonic wobble when multiple elements overlap like clapping or the peaks of musical instruments being played or high pitched ringing bells but again, this is for brief moments in the film as nothing really goes beyond dialogue, whispered desires and the deep breathing of erotic pleasures.
The only extra here is the trailer (03:06 SD) and a DVD Copy. I’m told there’s also a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly illustrated artwork by The Red Dress and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Tinto Brass scholar Alexander Tuschinski, illustrated with rare production stills but I didn’t get any of that with my review disc, so I;m afraid I can’t comment on those.
The Key is not really the side of erotica that’s there to have fun with, like say, The Scoreor The Lickerish Quartet. The fun, casual 60s and 70s approach to sex was slipping away and The Key shows the distinctly darker 80s moods that came into erotic films (essentially the combination of low lighting and black stockings is a sure fire sign you’re in an 80s erotic film). Additionally, The Key is very much a middle aged aimed erotic drama, with the story focusing in on a long term relationship that needs some spice and how an slightly older crowd still have their own fair share of kicks.
The Blu-ray isn't anywhere near a show stopper but that's largely down to the drab style of the film more than anything else. For the day lit scenes everything is clean and sometimes bright (it's pretty lousy looking weather most of the time) but when the darker edges creep in, so does the grain levels and softness. The audio also doesn't do much to excite and the lack of extras doesn't really save the day either.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 20th May 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 2.0 English, LPCM 2.0 Italian
Extras: Trailer, DVD Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Tinto Brass
Cast: Frank Finlay, Stefania Sandrelli
Genre: Drama and Romance
Length: 110 minutes
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