It doesn’t mat­ter what cin­e­mat­ic gen­re you’re deal­ing with: the dif­fer­ence between trash and trea­sure is often a mat­ter of vision.  Even the soft­core sex com­e­dy can be an artis­ti­cal­ly impres­sive expe­ri­ence if the film­mak­er guid­ing it has a dis­tinc­tive and unique intepre­ta­tion of what such a film can be.  Tinto Brass is one such film­mak­er and Cheeky! shows his skills nice­ly.  Even though it’s one of his lighter works, it over­flows with clev­er touch­es that are informed by a dis­tinc­tive and per­son­al phi­los­o­phy about its sub­ject Cheeky-posmat­ter.

The plot of Cheeky! seems sim­ple enough: Carla (Yuliya Mayarchuk) is a lusty young Venetian lady enjoy­ing a time abroad in England.  She bat­tles her strong sex dri­ve while search­ing for an apart­ment for her boyfriend Matteo (Jarno Bernardi), who is due to join her soon to con­tin­ue his stud­ies.  However, her new home is full of temp­ta­tions — includ­ing manip­u­la­tive real estate agent Moira (Francesca Nunzi) — and Matteo strug­gles with intense roman­tic jeal­ousy.  When Matteo dis­cov­ers some old love let­ters from a past suit­or of Carla’s, he starts push­ing her but­tons — and this begins a lusty jour­ney for both lovers that leads them to a new way of think­ing about sex and romance.

Cheeky! is over­heat­ed from its open­ing frames: Brass infus­es the film with a play­ful, thor­ough­ly lusty sense of sex­u­al­i­ty, allow­ing his cam­era to linger on the cast’s eroge­nous zones — par­tic­u­lar­ly the der­ri­eres of his actress­es — and sets it all to a jaun­ty pop score from Pino Donaggio.  Appropriately, he also packs the film with nudi­ty and sex, often skirt­ing hard­core ter­ri­to­ry, but does so with the kind of florid visu­al aes­thet­ic that gen­re film fans would asso­ciate Cheeky-01with a vin­tage Argento film.  Mayarchuk embod­ies the film’s cen­tral spir­it of libidi­nous desire nice­ly, with Nunzi offer­ing a fun sup­port­ing per­for­mance as a con­niv­ing temptress and Bernandi essay­ing the wound­ed male ego in a con­vinc­ing­ly Italian way.

However, what makes Cheeky! tru­ly inter­est­ing is the way the sec­ond half of the film express­es its own unique phi­los­o­phy about sex, jeal­ousy and rela­tion­ships.  Without giv­ing too much away, Brass has his hero­ine and her lover come to an inter­est­ing under­stand­ing of the­se con­cepts that sees them as part of a nec­es­sary cycle rather than as bat­tling forces.  It’s the kind of think­ing that could only come from some­one who has immersed him­self in a lot of think­ing about lust and its dri­ving ele­ments — and it gives the film an unex­pect­ed sense of sub­stance beneath its free­wheel­ing pur­suit of car­nal visu­als.

In short, Cheeky! dish­es up sex with a joy­ful aban­don — and it also boasts a car­nal phi­los­o­phy that makes it mem­o­rable long after the viewer’s tem­per­a­ture has revert­ed to nor­mal.