You certainly came here to destroy.
I can't help but feel like Pier Paolo Pasolini and I got off on the wrong foot. Until now, the only film of his that I had seen was his 1969 adaptation of Medea, which is far from his most accessible work. A much better choice would have been 1968's Teorema, which I was introduced to tonight. It's no less mysterious than I remember Medea being, but this one is a lot more captivating and has an extremely magnetic presence at its center.
That presence is, of course, Terence Stamp, who plays a fabulously beautiful stranger who arrives out of the blue at the villa of a well-off Italian family and proceeds to seduce every member of the household in turn. First up is the maid (Laura Betti), who's so overwhelmed by his presence that she tries to take the gas pipe, but Stamp calms her down. Next is the son (Andrés José Cruz Soublette), who's secretly thrilled about having to bunk with him, but is extremely hesitant about taking advantage of their proximity. The mother (Silvana Mangano) is a bit more brazen, stripping down outdoors and positioning herself so Stamp can "accidentally" discover her, while the daughter (Anne Wiazemsky) makes sure they go inside so they can have some privacy. That just leaves the father (Massimo Girotti), who lets Stamp take him for a ride in more ways than one. Then comes the news that it's time for Stamp to leave and everybody goes to pieces.
Well, not everybody. While the others take turns taking Stamp aside and confiding in him what he has meant to them and how their lives will never be the same, Betti takes the whole thing in stride. In fact, she follows in his footsteps by packing a suitcase and leaving, eventually installing herself on a bench that gets turned into a holy shrine. Wiazemsky, meanwhile, suffers a hysterical paralysis and has to get carted away in an ambulance, and Soublette throws himself into his art. As for Mangano, she takes to driving around and picking up young men who look vaguely like Stamp, and Girotti tries to go back to his old life but strips down in the middle of a train station and takes a very long walk instead. Whether he's any closer to understanding anything at the end of it is anyone's guess.