American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Lina Wertmuller's "Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August" resists the director's most determined attempts to make it a fable about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and persists in being about a man and a woman. On that level, it's a great success, even while it's causing all sorts of mischief otherwise. We could have deep arguments about the meaning of it all, and no doubt we will, but as a sort of kinky update of "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison," the movie works just fine.
It involves a bearded sailor, who's a fervent subscriber to the macho school of Italian thought, and a beautiful young blond, who's the plaything of her rich husband. They're thrown together during a luxurious yacht cruise in the Mediterranean, and the woman takes every opportunity to mock the sailor: He's stupid, he can't get anything right, he smells, he's probably - worst of all - a Communist!
Late one day, the woman decides to go out in a dinghy and orders the sailor to operate the boat. He protests that it's dangerous to leave so late in the day, but she insists. The engine fails, they're cast adrift for days and when the sailor succeeds after great effort in catching a fish, she throws it overboard because it smells.
Eventually they land on a deserted island, and the tables in their relationship begin to turn with a vengeance. Consider. Ashore and on board the yacht, the woman held the unquestioned upper hand because of her husband's money. But on the island, it's the man, with his survival skills and (most controversial, this) his very masculinity, who's the dominant figure. He orders her around. If she wants to eat, she'll have to do his laundry. She screams, she sulks, she argues, but she loses. And she finds herself powerfully attracted to the situation; she's been spoiled so long, it's almost a relief to be ordered around.