Liliana Cavani, 1974
Rainy Vienna as a backdrop. Isn’t that interesting? In The Night Porter, Italian filmmaker Liliana Cavani tackles sadomasochism and the Stockholm syndrome. Thanks to Charlotte Rampling’s iconic costume, The Night Porter became Cavani’s best remembered film.
Lucia, now married, reunites with Max. And they reignite their sadomasochistic love affair. Soon, Max will have a trial for his war crimes. Max and his former associates wash their hands by “filing away” the witnesses and destroying the documents. Max hides his “little girl” from his ex-comrades. What will Max do if they find out about Lucia?
Cavani portrays Max and Lucia as victims of fate. They share an odd romance at the wrong place, at the wrong time. What I found intriguing about the film is Max and Lucia’s willingness to succumb into pure madness. Cavani shows us how far these characters would go to preserve their physically and mentally tormenting relationship.
Just like Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession, The Night Porter is still a perplexing film for me, even after numerous viewings. Cavani was very effective in making a visually and psychologically perturbing film. With The Night Porter, Cavani made an ambitious film.
FYI: Cavani reportedly paired Rampling and Bogarde after seeing them in Luchino Visconti’s The Damned.
Fan-made trailer for The Night Porter: