By Owen Gleiberman
Updated March 17, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST
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Farinelli

type
  • Movie

FARINELLI (Sony Pictures Classics, R) When Farinelli (Stefano Dionisi), the most famous castrato of the 18th century, walks on stage, he looks as rakish as Valentino, but the moment he opens his mouth we hear an incandescent womanly soprano-a shockingly erotic siren song. In its musical sequences, this Belgian biographical melodrama evokes the freakish grandeur of what is surely ! the most perverse tradition in opera history: the stealing of the manhood of hundreds of young boys in the name of vocal purity. Farinelli’s costumes and headdresses may look like something out of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but his eerie vocal androgyny-he’s a stud who sings like an angel-makes the countesses in the audience weep and swoon, their bosoms heaving with shivery pleasure. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is a crudely plotted pulp comic book centering on the conflict between Farinelli and his manipulative older brother (Enrico Lo Verso); their relationship manages to be both wildly overwrought and dismally underscripted. For all its gender-bending chic, Farinelli suggests nothing so much as a James Dean movie directed by Lina Wertmuller at her most threadbare hysterical. C -OG

Farinelli

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
  • R

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