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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

What Have You Done to Solange?

(Cosa avete fatto a Solange?)
1972 | ItalyUnited KingdomWest Germany | 107 min | More...
A still from What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)
  • Watched on B-: 4 stars (out of 5)
    on Mon Aug 1, 2022 via Arrow Player

    Elizabeth, a high-school student aboard a rowboat on a tryst with her professor, Enrico, glimpses a murder. Dismissing it as nerves, Enrico ends the outing and takes her home. But the next morning, while dressing with his wife, Enrico hears a news report on the crime. Soon the bodies pile up as Elizabeth, plagued by nightmares, struggles to recall more details of the killer’s identity.

    You must commit to this one. It opens as one film, but ends as another. Without giving too much away, I’ll set the stage.

    Enrico, whose look can best be described as “sleazy magician”, sports a short boxed beard and wears track suits unzipped to the navel. He carries on an affair with one of his students and has a love-nest apartment with the bedroom covered in dorm-room-style pin-ups.

    He looks guilty early, having dropped a pen at the murder site. It seems the film will play out with him and Elizabeth ferreting out the killer from among the many suspects—including his wife.

    Unoriginal, but I could have gotten behind it.

    But then the film pivots. Enrico begins wearing turtlenecks and morphs into a respectable character. He reconciles with his wife and the two pair up to prove his innocence. Together, they uncover the answer to the titular question, which leads to an unexpected—but earned—twist that will upset a good number of viewers.

    It’s unclear where director Massimo Dallamano’s sympathies lie. I don’t harbor any illusions he set out to expose the horrors of the patriarchy. Nor do I believe he set out to chastise the women’s sexual liberation movement. The film reflects its time and thus, I can’t praise him for upending genre tropes—the film predates them. For the same reason, I can’t admire how he pushes another trope to the extreme. But, in the film’s broader context, these things hold relevance.

    But you’ve got to commit. I can’t promise a comfortable experience, just a unique one.