A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci on the subject of his new film: "'Luna' is not a movie about why the mother acts in this way. It is a movie fascinated that she does act in this way. It is melodramatic. Operatic. At the end, the music of Verdi, very loud, over the climax, literally eats the bourgeois drama!"
And maybe that goes some way toward explaining the astonishing events in "Luna," which cannot be believed in any terms except, possibly, the operatic -- and of course you don't have to believe operas, that's one of their charms. Bertolucci has sprung his gourd this time. He's the Gunter Gebel Williams of cinema, and right there in the center ring, he's got a soap opera and a Freudian case history (traditional enemies in their natural states) and he's forcing them to copulate!
What a show. Caterina (Jill Clayburgh), an American opera singer, sobs in horror as the dead body of her husband is taken from a wrecked car in front of their New York brownstone. Her son Joe mopes in the background. A change of venue is indicated! Mother and son leave immediately for Italy, where Caterina throws herself into a production at the ancient Baths of Caracalla.
Fate plays its cruel hand: Joe experiments with bisexuality and becomes addicted to heroin, Caterina loses her singing voice, and then Joe discovers that his real father is not the late Douglas Winter but young Giuseppe, a poor teacher. Distraught and without a hypodermic needle, Joe, slave to his addiction, plunges a dinner fork into his forearm. Caterina, moved by his inchoate appeal, helps him to masturbate. A few days later, as Joe and Giuseppe look on, she triumphantly regains the use of her voice. (It is at this point that the music of Verdi eats the bourgeois drama.)