'Seduced and Abandoned' directed by Pietro Germi / Currently streaming via Hulu Plus

"Seduced And Abandoned" concerns a man of high standing in a small Sicilian town, Don Vincenzo Ascalone (Saro Urzi), as he attempts to deal with the pregnancy of his 15-year-old daughter Agnese (Stefania Sandrelli) who lost her virginity at the insistent hands of her sister's fiance Peppino Califano (Aldo Puglisi). To say "Seduced and Abandoned" sets out to skewer patriarchal hypocrisy is underselling it considerably. It's like watching someone melt an ice cube by firing it into the sun. Every desperate attempt at social engineering or opportunity to be kind becomes another queasy twist of the knife: Peppino won't marry the 15-year-old because her sleeping with him (which he forced upon her, mind you) makes her a tramp now, while Don Vincenzo disturbs a disgraced, poverty-stricken baron mid-suicide attempt to offer his other daughter. Don Vincenzo moves like he's in a samurai movie, consulting warring factions, wise men, and codes of honor for what he should do next. Throughout his journey, he presents his daughter's lost virginity and potential sexuality as a prop, a bargaining chip and bureaucratic hurdle to a never-ending series of crusty old dickheads, begging for their help in "his" moment of crisis. The stark, artfully composed frames are always packed with nosy onlookers, needing minimal encouragement to offer their judgment. Meanwhile, the 15-year-old Agnese spends the bulk of the movie a prisoner in her bedroom, alternately being beaten or told she is insane. When she escapes, she's called a child and a whore, usually by the same man and often in the same sentence. The film's final shot is a perfect, horrible coda underlining with glib brutality the immutable truth that drives every nightmarish futility of this story: Too often, a young woman's sexuality only exists to elevate or condemn the men in her life, and the only say she has in the matter is asking what kind of punishment she deserves. (Sean McTiernan)
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