A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin / She, A Chinese @ ICA cinema

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最近、ICAで、ロンドンを舞台にした2つの映画を観た。一つ目はイタリアン・ホラー/スプラッター映画(ジャッロ)の巨匠、ルーチョ・フルチ監督の「A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin(Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna/幻想殺人、1971年)」。ロンドンの上流階級の政治家の娘、キャロル・ハモンドは、サイコセラピストに、毎夜、隣に住む奔放な生活を送る美女との情事に溺れる悪夢を見てしまうことを相談している。ある日、夢でキャロルはその情事の相手を殺してしまうが、現実でも彼女が夢見た通りの殺人が起こった。彼女は本当に殺人を犯したのか、それとも不貞を働く夫にはめられたのか?ヒッピー・ムーブメントやカウンターカルチャーが花開いた1960年代のロンドンを舞台に、謎は深まっていく。斬新で、幻想的なフィルミングもいいけれど、裸満載で妙にエロティックなのは、あの時代特有なものなのか、それともイタリアっぽいのか?サスペンス映画としての評価はもとより、イタリア人から見た、ステレオタイプ的なイギリス観が面白い。豪奢なロンドンのマンションや田舎の広大なお屋敷など上流階級の生活と、その両極端にあって、いつもラリっていて怪しいヒッピーたち。警察官以外は普通の人は出てこない。

もう一つは「She, a Chinese彼女、中国人)」。中国映画かと思いきや、中国人女性で作家のXiaolu Guo(郭小櫓)が監督、UK Film Council(イギリス映画振興のための政府機関)やFilm 4チャンネル4系の映画専門局)などが制作した、イギリス/ドイツ/フランス合作映画なのだが、私的には近年見た中で最悪の映画だった。中国の片田舎で退屈な生活を送っていた女の子メイが、目的も希望もなく故郷を飛び出し、その都度手近にいる男にしなだれかかって、彼らに寄生しながら、したたかに生きていくというストーリー。まずは地方の大都市・重慶、そして色々あってロンドンにたどり着いた後、定年退職したイギリス人の老人と結婚。でもその生活からもすぐに逃げ出し、近所で小さなインド料理店をやっているムスリム系インド人の家に転がり込むが、最後には妊娠、男にも捨てられるという、脳みその軽くてナイーブな若い女の話。彼女に関わる男性たちも、彼女を性的対象として見るだけで、一様に冷酷でひどい奴ばかり。まあ、それに値する女なのだけど。人物描写も背景描写も、全てにおいて薄っぺらで、彼女の行動に意味はなく、ただ感情の赴くままに生きている。しかも、情夫が貯めていたお金でロンドンに団体旅行で来て、そこから逃げ出し、イギリスに住み着くという設定もかなり怪しい。彼女のように田舎から出てきて売春婦をしていた女性が、厳格な中国において、イギリスビザやパスポートを取れるのか??そんなに簡単なら、生命のリスクを冒してマフィアに大金を払い、密入国しなくてはならない不法移民たちがいるのは何故か。第62回ロカルノ映画祭の金豹賞を受賞したとのことだが、か細くて可愛い東洋人が、人生を迷いながらも強く生きていくという、アジア人好きの西洋人男性にウケそう。しかも映画には、彼女の顔のクローズアップと可愛い仕草、そしてセックスシーンで溢れている。異文化好きのTime Out誌は4つ星評価だけれど、私はTimes紙の1つ星に1票!

ともあれ、最初に結婚した、定年退職したイギリス人の老人の退屈な典型的中流階級のイギリス生活、そんな夫との退屈な生活が嫌で転がり込んだ、ムスリム系インド人の住む、移民の多いエリアのイーストエンドと、「幻想殺人」の舞台とはまた違ったロンドンが垣間見れる。英語もろくに喋れない彼女の限られた生活範囲内の、現代ロンドンのごく一部の狭い世界ではあるけれど。

Recently I saw two movies filmed in London at ICA. The first one is “A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin (Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna, 1971)”, directed by Lucio Fulci, known for his splatter and Italian giallo movies. The film follows the daughter of a prominent British politician, Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan), who experiences a series of recurring ‘nightmares’ in which she has an affair with a bisexual nympho who lives downstairs and conducts all-night LSD orgies. In the dream she kills her neighbor. Did she actually commit the murder she dreamt about, or is she being framed by her unfaithful husband? The murder mystery takes place in swinging late-1960’s London. Its innovative and surreal filming is quite original and intriguing. The movie is full of nudity and eroticism – is it of the time when hippie and counter culture was flourished, or is it an Italian thing? Anyway, more than anything, it is interesting to see stereotypical London and British people through Italian eyes – you can see two extremes of UK society at the period; upper class lifestyle with gorgeous apartment in London and vast estate in the countryside and drug-ridden grungy hippie culture.

Another one is “She, a Chinese” – I thought the movie is from China, but it is a UK/Germany/France movie, written and directed by Chinese woman Xiaolu Guo and produced by UK Film Council and Film 4. I must say that it is one of the worst movie I have seen in years. This is the story of Mei, a young village woman who leads a boring life in rural China. Unfulfilled, she leaves for the big city Chongqing, and then heads out for London. She marries to a retired British math teacher, but soon gets frustrated, and leaves him for a younger Muslim Indian who has an takeaway curry shop nearby. At the end, she gets pregnant and is dumped by him. Mei is young and naive and has no goal in her life. What she cares is a man and she always leans on any man around her to cling to for living and fulfillment. Also men whom she has a relationship with are all worst kind who just see her as a sex object – maybe she deserves to that kind of men anyway. The story is quite shallow and offers me nothing but nuisance. At the end, I am like, “so what?!” Some details are unrealistic as well – how come the girl like Mei, a prostitute, can join a sightseeing tour which are exclusively for rich Chinese and people connect to the leading Communist party, getting British visa and Chinese passport so easily (Chinese government has a strict policy for issuing a passport and doesn’t give it to everyone), and just run away from the tour and decides to live in UK? If it’s so easy, no one would pay a lot of money to Snakehead, risking their life to smuggle themselves into UK in a hidden space in a truck or a small compartment of a cargo ship for months. This movie won the Golden Leopard award at Locarno International Film Festival – I understand that some Western men love the movie like “She, a Chinese,” a story of cute oriental girl who is lost in her life but struggling to find a meaning of life, or some kind of craps. This movie is all about her – her face, her body, and her sex scenes – a perfect movie for Asiaphilia men. Ethnic-loving Time Out gave this movie 4 stars, but I give two thumbs up for the Timess’ 1 star review!

Anyways, you can see different sides of London portrayed in “She, a Chinese,” from “A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin” – a typical life of British middle class retiree, and London’s East End where many south-Asian immigrants live – though it is only a small part of modern London as Mei, who barely speaks English, stays in very restricted area and never goes out from the small bubble.

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