Tinto Brass is one of the most interesting directors of erotica because his take on the genre is so distinctive. Rather than just rely on the sex and nudity to hold the viewer’s interest, he approaches his subject matter with a certain “boudoir philosophy” and orients his directorial style around it (not to mention his fetishes). Even the slighter works in his filmography rise above the sexploitation doldrums because they are infused with his singular take on sex.
Case in point: Private (known in some countries as Do It!). This film finds Brass tackling the portmanteau film, dishing up a sextet of short tales in just under ninety minutes. The premises are Penthouse Forum-type stuff: a husband helps his wife indulge her not-so-secret desire for a threesome, two couple swap partners as they try to advance their business agendas, a hotel maid “earns” tips from a randy couple to help her boyfriend out, a wife tells her jealous husband cheating tales to entice him, a woman gets revenge on a straying hubby in a way that hurts his pride and libido and a pair of newlyweds experience a voyeur with a surprise up his sleeve.
As stories, these tales are simple stuff: the plot and characterizations are minimal so maximum time can be devoted to the sex. What makes Private interesting is Brass’ approach to the material. His visual style has an overtly fetishized quality: the camera is frequently placed at crotch level and he favors visual compositions that highlight the splendor of the female derrière. As is typically the case in a Brass film, the camerawork is slick and works in tandem with the production design to give the film a stylized quality that offsets the exuberant raunchiness of the material.
Private offers an added layer of intrigue in how the various stories represent the director’s philosophy about sex: the tales frequently revolve around how men secretly enjoy experiencing jealousy to stoke their own internal flame of desire, the idea of voyeurism as an aphrodisiac and the concept that cheating can add spice to a romantic relationship rather than destroying it.
In short, Private is best viewed as a style exercise: while the tales might plow familiar erotica territory, it’s the style — and the philosophy driving the style — that makes it worth a look to genre fans. If you’re already converted to the Tinto Brass approach, you can rest assured you’ll have fun here.