Joe Neumaier
November 08, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Stealing Beauty

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
118 minutes
performer
Jeremy Irons, Liv Tyler, Sinead Cusack, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz
director
Bernardo Bertolucci
author
Susan Minot
genre
Drama, Romance

We gave it a D-

Director Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor, Little Buddha) with Stealing Beauty tries his hand at a sex romp with embarrassing results. American ingenue Lucy (the luscious Tyler) arrives at a villa in Tuscany to read her dead mother’s poetry and, at 19, to relieve herself of her virginity. The old men (including Irons as a dying writer and Donal McCann as a smarmy sculptor) pant and heave in Lucy’s presence; the young Italian dudes make puppy eyes at her; the older women make virgin jokes. Imagine an Agatha Christie mystery with a crotch obsession and you’ll picture this cast of characters. With its summery landscapes lost on video and no performances of note, Beauty tries hard to evoke Italian languor, lust, and love. But all the once-great Bertolucci can muster is this absurdly epic deflowering tale that’s as sexy as spaghetti and cheap wine. D-

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