Looking at Romy Schneider's biography, we can say that 1974 saw the heyday of her career. It was so not only due to the fact that most of her greatest roles were already behind her but because she was deeply attached to the glamorous European cinema being acquainted with such top directors of the time like Luchino Visconti and Claude Sautet. Therefore, one may say that Romy was already cured of the sweet image of Sissi since her various roles proved her undeniable flairs to portray different characters and express various kinds of feelings. That year, however, brought her something terribly controversial and shocking, a role of Philomeme Schmidt in TRIO INFERNAL, a movie that raised contradictory feelings among her audience, from impression to fury. Her role was found eccentric by many people and, certainly, this view has not changed in majority till now. Why is it so? Haven't many other movie characters actually shocked us a considerable number of times since 1974?
I think that the main facet of this phenomenon is not so much the character Romy plays since I don't think that anybody may be shocked by Philomene Schmidt and her sexual - materialistic desires any longer. The real core of the problem is the execution of the entire movie content and conveyance of its message based loosely upon the novel by Solange Fasquelle. Being a story of three felons, Georges Sarret (Michel Piccoli) and two Schmidt sisters Philomene (Romy Schneider) and Katrin (Mascha Gonska), it shows how cleverly, how coldly they can do wrong acts (very evil indeed) and adore their own deviations. Partly a comedy, partly a satire but partly a drama, TRIO INFERNAL is filled with rotten decadence, felony, marital treason, perverting images, blasphemous attitudes, and horribly sick behaviors. Georges Sarret is rewarded by his nation as a hero during the war. However, in reality, he is an unrestrained libertine and a vicious criminal. He heads for using the two Schmidt sisters for sex and for wealth. What do they do to gain more: they steal, cheat life insurances and slay innocent people...
That would be so far "acceptable." There are more movies which offer similar content. Yet, I cannot understand why the director shows these events in such an awful way. Killing the couple was one thing but pulling their blooded bodies upstairs, putting them in the tub, covering them with sulfuric acid and having sex at their dead bodies is undeniably far too short of good taste. Moreover, we are, in details, supplied with the image how the three (title's trio infernal) clean this tub... Feels like vomiting... What is more, it all takes place at Christmas time and from time to time we hear a German carol "Oh Tannenbaum", we see the Christmas tree and find "charm" of mockery "all around." Some other scenes in the movie would be acceptable for me but this sequence which lasts for more than 15 minutes is a total failure! I also highly despised the character of Magali (Monica Fiorentini). In fact, there was no point why she was there: a sick girl taken from monastery hospital and introduced to the forbidden fruit of lesbian love... That makes me think of TRIO INFERNAL as "movie infernal."
What can be seen as a plus for this movie? I think there are two virtues: Romy Schneider (performance and looks) as well as music by Ennio Morricone. Romy, in a magnificent powerful flawless way, portrays an eccentric woman who is driven by inner forces and wants to get things only out of her selfish desires. Scene by scene she is terrific at acting and looks magnificent. Yes, it is worth seeing TRIO INFERNAL for Romy Schneider's looks - her make up combined with her costumes and unforgettable facial expressions. Consider, for instance, two moments: at the roulette and in the train to Paris. Music by Ennio Morricone adds a nice thrill to the atmosphere, particularly at the end. That is fine about the movie! When considering other performances, nothing special can be found. Michel Piccoli did better in other roles than here and Mascha Gonska is more a sexy young woman than a good actress.
As for the whole picture, there is nothing exceptionally worth attention in TRIO INFERNAL except for the two aforementioned aspect. The direction is flawed, the cinematography is far from stunning and the action is slow, but, as I already mentioned, filled with macabre events. Although the beginning would seem quite captivating, the dark humor moves too far and spoils much. There are two things in this movie that you will not find elsewhere: real "magic" of decadence and terribly male dominated sexual scenes. "Let's make love in Paris" as Georges says to Katrin should be changed into "I want to f*** you in Paris!" (sorry if I offended someone by that. Nevetheless, that is what this line should be like; it would, though being vulgar, resemble the gist more clearly).
If you are a delicate person, I don't recommend you to see TRIO INFERNAL. Let me be frank: I believe that such films do not serve a good purpose. This movie only seems to be fine in some moments, but in fact it is a black spot on the entire art that cinema is. If I were asked if Romy was right to accept this role, I would not say she wasn't - that was her choice and she did her job as an actress very well proving how diverse roles she was able to take. Yet, if I were asked if Francis Girod was right to make this movie, I would not hesitate to say "No!"
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