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Apart from his final feature, Salo, this is probably Pier Paolo Pasolini's most controversial film, and to my mind one of his very best, though it has the sort of audacity and extremeness that send some American audiences into gales of derisive, self-protective laughter (1968). The title is Italian for “theorem,” in this case a mythological figure: an attractive young man (Terence Stamp) who visits the home of a Milanese industrialist and proceeds to seduce every member of the household—father, mother (Silvana Mangano), daughter (Anne Wiazemsky), son, and maid (Laura Betti). Then he leaves, and everyone in the household undergoes cataclysmic changes. Pasolini wrote a parallel novel of the same title, part of it in verse, while making this film; neither work is, strictly speaking, an adaptation of the other, but each deals with the same elements, and the stark poetry of both is like a triple-distilled version of Pasolini's view of the world—a view in which Marxism, Christianity, and homosexuality are forced into mutual and scandalous confrontations. It's an “impossible” work: tragic, lyrical, outrageous, indigestible, deeply felt, and wholly sincere. In Italian with subtitles. 105 min.

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