CASA EDEN (second feature)

CASA EDEN

CASA EDEN

original title:

CASA EDEN

directed by:

screenplay:

cinematography:

set design:

costume design:

producer:

production:

country:

Italy

year:

2004

film run:

99'

format:

35mm - colour

festivals & awards:

It’s the 1950s, set in a sun-drenched baroque Sicilian town. A good-looking woman in her thirties, Marisa, tries to kill her older lover who has betrayed and robbed her, in order to free herself from the pangs of revenge which gnaw at her heart, and which - she is convinced - have caused the spate of bad luck that has dogged her. Marisa and her sister Rosa run a sort of night-club called the Giarabub, which in fact is a second- rate brothel with a dozen or so prostitutes who live and work in something of a family atmosphere. Rosa, the elder sister, is greedy, selfish and bad-tempered. By contrast, Marisa has a sort of rustic gracefulness and the remains of a certain feminine ingenuity still not smothered by cheating and betrayal. Marisa falls in love with, and is loved by Rocco, a handsome second level member of the criminal underworld, a hoodlum but not too much so. Rosa is not at all enthusiastic about him. Rocco has big ambitions - to expand, to modernize, to move to a new luxury building. He suggests himself as partner in the venture and as manager of the new brothel. Using all their savings, the two sisters buy an old farmhouse outside the town and start doing it up and decorating it with rooms in the Roman and Chinese style, and with Turkish baths. It is to be called Eden, an earthly Paradise. Rocco directs the renovation work and promises the help of his Mafia cronies in order to get the all-important government licence. But his words lead to nothing, and Rosa gets more and more angry with him. The new bawdy-house opens for business, and the first enthusiastic guests are the local big shots and their friends. The very next day, miles away in Rome, the government approves the antiprostitution bill known as the Merlin law: overnight, brothels become illegal. It’s a total disaster for the sisters. Weighed down by debts and misfortune, they try to get rid of the women who are no longer a source of income, but only a burden. Poverty and mourning have made Rosa ferocious, and this situation unleashes her maniacal greed. The ex-whores are fed on bread and water, and they too are furious because the money they are owed never arrives. The claustrophobic situation in the ex-farmhouse inflames the occupants’ passions, and what was initially a peaceful family atmosphere becomes all-out war. In an absurd sequence of episodes - ferocious and comical at the same time, worthy of gran-guignol drama - the women are first chucked out of the house and then sold to a Turkish white-slave trader - a ridiculous inversion of what is happening nowadays with African and other prostitutes who are invading Europe. Marisa is more and more convinced that failure to carry out revenge has caused her bad luck. Rocco agrees with her; he is not jealous of her past, but the offence she suffered at the hands of her previous lover must be revenged, otherwise her misfortunes will never end. While the couple are planning the revenge, Rosa falls into a crisis of religious mysticism. She begins to frequent the archbishop’s residence, hoping, waiting, believing in something. Rocco and Marisa kill the traitor. But...