Color, 2000, 90m.
Directed by Tinto Brass
Starring Yuliya Mayarchuk, Jarno Berardi, Francesca Nunzi, Max Parodi, Mauro Lorenz, Leila Carli
Cult Epics (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), CVC (Italy R2 PAL), Arrow (UK R2 PAL), Splendid (Germany R2 PAL), Umbrella (Australia R0 PAL), Filmfreak (Holland R2 PAL) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9) / DD2.0


Up there with Senso '45 as the strongest of mischievous director Tinto Brass' post-1999 output, Cheeky! (original Italian title: Trasgredire) follows the sexuaCheekyl misadventures of Carla (Ukranian-born model/actress Mayarchuk), a free-spirited Venetian who goes apartment hunting in London to find a place for herself and her boyfriend, Matteo (Berardi), who's due to arrive soon. After grabbing the attention of numerous randy men in the park, she also inflames the desires of real estate agent Moira (Nunzi), who attempts to seduce Carla and finally gets her way in a public steam room. Of course, Carla isn't willing to go along with it until Matteo angrily rejects her after finding some steamy notes from an old paramour in their Italian apartment, which sends her and Moira off to a decadent party where they put on strange wigs and have sex with strangers after showing off their derrieres and hanging out with Moira's ex-husband (Brass regular Parodi). When Matteo does finally show up, will true love win out, or will jealousy get the upper hand?

Though she isn't asked to do anything too tasking as an actress, Mayarchuk makes for a fine, uninhibited Brass heroine here as she embodies the cheerful, libidinous spirit frequently found in his films. The London setting isn't too convincing since this was almost entirely shot at Cinecittà, while visually we're in familiar territory here: darkly-lit sex parties in swanky apartments, couples contemplating their romantic situations in front of vibrant sunsets, and acres and acres of bare flesh. One of the most noteworthy aspects here is the return of the great Pino Donaggio, the composer of such films as Carrie and The Howling who had previously scored Brass' All Ladies Do It and Frivolous Lola. As usual he really gets into the spirit here with a bouncy, catchy score that's still never seen a complete official release.

Though Cheekynot terribly explicit compared to some of the director's raunchiest films, there were enough anatomical details here to merit two separate edits of this film for English-speaking viewers (while Italian ones only got it completely uncut). The English-dubbed "producer's cut" released on DVD from Cult Epics omits a little over a minute of footage, mostly the usual prosthetic phalluses and a few glimpses of a bona fide one during one of the film's highlights, a steamy afternoon beach flashback. What's left was still a little stronger than your average cable TV fare, and most fans opted to go for the Italian-subtitled one on American DVD from the same label instead, which was presented full strength. (An earlier UK release from Arrow offers the shorter dubbed cut.) Weirdly, the end credits cite in very large print that the film was intended to be screened at 1.66:1, but every home vidCheekyeo release regardless of its transfer origins appears to be framed at 1.78:1. (If anyone knows of a release that proves otherwise, please write in!) In any case the compositions all look fine throughout; no matter how this was composed, it all looks pretty spacious and balanced as opposed to some of Brass' indisputable 1.66:1 films whose appearance is destroyed when modified for 1.78:1, especially The Voyeur.

That brings us to the 2012 Blu-Ray release from Cult Epics, which offers the best of both worlds by offering both the Italian and English-dubbed tracks with optional English subtitles (similar to the Italian DVD release). First of all, it's nice to have a fresh uncensored HD transfer of this one without the familiar PAL-to-NTSC issues or accelerated PAL playback issues found in the standard def versions, and generally speaking it looks pretty darn good. The opening and closing credits are taken from the English version (using the more accurate but far less interesting title Transgressing) and look conspicuously soft, while the rest of the film perks up considerably and looks pleasing enough in motion. As with most other Brass titles since '79 or so, this isn't exactly the kind of film where you look for exceptionally crisp detail given his fondness for filters and mood lighting, but the close ups (of both faces and, uh, other areas) look sharp enough and advance well beyond any of the DVDs. The stereo track (DTS-HD 2.0) sounds like an accurate representation of how the film was recorded, with some modest separation in the music. You could make a case for either the Italian or English track, really, as the leading lady is dubbed in both and much of the story is set in London anyway (with British accents to match). However, much of the supporting cast is clearly speaking Italian, and the original subtitled dialogue is a little bit wittier and more natural. Try 'em both! Extras replicate the Cult Epics DVD release, namely a fun behind-the-scenes reel (in 4:3 standard def) with Brass directed the all-femme sauna sequence, the English theatrical trailer, and a pretty randy photo gallery (tweaked and ported over to HD for the Blu-Ray).

Reviewed on September 6, 2012.