Saturday, December 11, 2010

MUMMSY, NANNY, SONNY AND GIRLY (Freddie Francis, 1969, UK)

Mummsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly live a life of disintegrating values and dehumanizing games, and become victims themselves of a sexual revolution. Freddie Francis’ bizarre brood of British banality is a delectable hybrid of Luis Bunuel domestic surrealism as written by Tennessee Williams.

The film begins with the unnamed protagonists (known only by their titular sobriquets) playing in a zoo and teasing the animals…and humans. These two teenagers act and speak like children, uttering annoying baby-talk with a riptide of sexual urgency. An unnerving implication of incest is revealed with finger-sucking aplomb while they search for a playmate. After discovering a drunken bum on a park bench, they bring him back home to Mummsy and Nanny to complete the Patriarchal pastiche, a nuclear family unit whose fuse is set to purposely implode. But Girly and her brother blackmail another man whose mannerisms are all to manly, seducing all three women and finally playing them one against the other, as sex becomes the greatest weapon.

Freddie Francis creates a claustrophobic fear in the shuttered mansion, where chilling details like boarded-up doors and locked rooms foreshadow events. Sex is juxtaposed with violence, as the shrill baby-talk barely conceals the murderous events. The fault of the story is that there is little sympathetic context, no character that becomes the focal point of audience attention. The events are orchestrated for effect; for physical detachment (like the head, for instance) and not emotional attachment. We just don’t care about anyone but applaud their comeuppance.

A black comedy of unique proportions, GIRLY upsets Christian values and redefines the family structure, as sex becomes the currency for survival, the man’s tool leveraging power and transforming the matriarchal structure where the daughter now usurps the throne.

Final Grade: (C)

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