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…
This review of "Teorema" is going to be a holding action. I don't feel ready to write about this mysterious film; perhaps, a week from now, I'll decide it is very bad, a failure. But perhaps it is the most brilliant work yet by that strange director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, who is a Marxist and a Freudian and yet made the best film ever made about the life of Christ ("The Gospel According to St. Matthew").
Some will say "Teorema" is about Christ too. That was the prevailing theory last year at the Venice Film Festival, when "Teorema" won the International Catholic Jury grand award. But that was not the theory at the Vatican, which attacked the award in an official statement. And it was not the view of the Italian courts, which tried Pasolini and his producer for obscenity (although Pasolini won his case).
The obscenity charges notwithstanding, "Teorema" is not at all erotic. Nor is it anything else you can put a name to. I think it likely that almost everyone will dislike this film; on the night of the sneak preview, there were snorts and giggles from certain quarters of the audience. But was this response accurate (the film is indeed preposterous at times) or was it defensive? How did people react to the first screenings of "Last Year at Marienbad" or "Breathless" (1960)? My guess is that "Teorema" is a watershed of some kind, a film out of its own time, a film nothing has prepared us for, but a film that in years to come will be seen as a turning point like early Godard.
None of these comments, as you can see, indicate that I have the slightest idea what I think about "Teorema." Or rather, that I think too many things; that this film is perversely difficult, that it is serene, that it is ridiculous, that it has the power at some subterranean level to remain in your memory long after you think you've dismissed it.