Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Who Wants to Kill Sara? (Tutti gli uomini di Sara) (1992)

I certainly do not, but Sara thinks somebody does.

Nancy Brilli (Ruggero Deodato’s Body Count (1986) and Demons 2 (1986)) plays Sara Lancetti, a successful divorce attorney who is set to marry Max Altieri (Giulio Scarpati).  They forgo a long engagement and choose to marry fifteen days from Max’s proposal.  They’re happy.  One evening in their flat, a bouquet of flowers arrives with a mysterious message telling Sara not to marry.  Max believes they are the gift of an old bitter boyfriend, and Sara ignores them.  Sara receives a second bouquet and subsequently an obscene phone call that threatens her if she gets married.  Sara does not phone the police, believing her life may be in danger.  Rather, Sara decides to take a trip down memory lane and seek out her old lovers.
Who Wants to Kill Sara? (Tutti gli uomini di Sara) (1992) wants to defy the expectations of the genre from it was so clearly born: the erotic thriller, brought to the A-List from the B-List by directors such as Adrian Lyne with 9 ½ Weeks (1986) and Fatal Attraction (1987) and Paul Verhoeven with Basic Instinct (1991).  In the end, Who Wants to Kill Sara? is a thriller; but its screenplay, by Silvia Napolitano, keeps it as loose as possible, only including the requisite scenes of the genre as they are demanded.

Subsequent to her second bouquet and obscene phone call, Sara begins visiting old lovers.  The first she meets in a café and has a light conversation.  (Implicitly, Sara is able to remove suspects from her list by listening again to her lovers’ voices.)  While their conversation is light, the pair feels a chemistry and Sara and her old lover become flirty.  Despite the duo’s romantic feelings, their meeting ends uneventfully.  Sara then locates ex-lover, Daniele (Claudio Bigagli), who, upon seeing Sara, again, becomes overcome with emotion.  He’s sensitive, and after another uneventful meeting, where Sara eliminates him as a suspect, Daniele shows outside the courtroom to confront Sara the next day.  It was too much for him to see Sara, again, and he has to let her know this.  Sara meets another lover who’s hiding a secret, but in the end, this secret has nothing to do with Sara.
There is an obvious warm nostalgia visiting and reminiscing with old lovers, simultaneously with a danger of reigniting the charged emotions that may have led to that relationship’s ending.  The pitfalls of such dangers are the driving force behind Who Wants to Kill Sara?  The opening scene of the film after Sara successfully defends her client in a courtroom, in the bathroom, Sara is pulled into an empty stall by an unknown man.  The two have a steamy standing love scene.  At the mid-point in the film, seemingly to remind its viewer that Sara is a thriller, Sara pops into a convenience store for some milk and receives a phone call while inside.  A stranger is calling from a phone booth, and Sara gives chase.  She cannot locate the man making the phone call, but soon after, she is attacked near her flat.  Sara escapes with little injury.  As the film builds towards its climax, Sara’s obsession to find the caller grows and causes havoc in her personal and professional life.  During the final meeting of Sara and one of her old lovers, it ends with Sara sharing his bed.  Peppered throughout the film are sexy shots of Brilli in her garter and hose or in her panties.  Erotic scenes? Check.  Thriller scenes? Check.  Erotic thriller?  Not quite.
Who Wants to Kill Sara? suffers from an A-list production forgetting its true, b-movie roots.  The film is lit in a Lyne-ish manner with natural light filtering in through windows, giving its actors a smoky silhouette look at times.  The night scenes, especially the ones in Sara’s flat, are pedestrian.  When the killer is revealed in the final act, I didn’t really care too much.  To be truthful, it seemed Sara didn’t seem to particularly care either.  Obscure.

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