Argentine sex-bomb Isabel “Coco” Sarli gets a serious role as an unhappy hooker who sees the crack in the ceiling above her bed as a portal into the past. Directed by onetime art-house name Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, The Female is tawdry, pretentious, and intermittently striking—the widescreen vision of the blasted pampas (supposedly Mexico) anticipates Sergio Leone’s old west.
Contains surprising weight and artistry
Cora is a Mexican prostitute with typically inconsiderate johns. She is troubled by a hole in the ceiling. The hole triggers flashbacks regarding how she got to where she is; she hooked up with a gringo and got involved in digging a well. A horse thief given up for dead gives them a hand.
The mild nudity is shot in the most discreet fashion. Soon we learn the film's intention has nothing to do with titillation, despite the fact that the distribution company (Cambist) specialized in soft-core (as far as I can determine). Quite the contrary, it's a very involving and artistic film with wonderful performances. Particularly Isabel Sarli, who reminded me of a young Sophia Loren; she maintains a light spirit and carrying weight on her shoulders at the same time. I was impressed, given the other performance I had seen her in, FUEGO, which was a little more over the top (but where she also had done a convincing job, as a nymphomaniac.) It is surprising this film is not better known, given its fine direction and overall quality. The fact that it was of South American origin might have had something to do with its lack of respect, as far as recognition in the United States was concerned.