A middle-aged prostitute (Elizabeth Taylor) and a mysterious young waif (Mia Farrow) enact a deranged mommy-daughter duet in an eerie London townhouse, in director Joseph Losey’s baroque, ultra-cult psychodrama.
“It’s time to speak of unspoken things,” insinuated the posters for this ultra-cult film, which seems to be an attempt by Elizabeth Taylor and director Joseph Losey to outdo the baroque camp of their previous collaboration Boom! (Try to imagine the film as it was originally cast, with Ingrid Bergman!) Distraught after her daughter’s death, Liz’s London prostitute Leonora is invited home from the cemetery by the waiflike Cenci (Mia Farrow), who is decked out in a raven-haired wig the better to resemble the woman whom she soon obsessively dotes on as her surrogate mother. A foul-tempered Robert Mitchum plays Farrow’s stepfather, who is drawn into the increasingly unhinged women’s cloistral, ritualized world. (In some ways the film’s protagonist is the eerie house in which it transpires.) This outrageously entertaining psychodrama prompted Camille Paglia to an orgasmic “aesthetic epiphany” when Taylor “abruptly appeared in a violet suit and turban against a wall of sea-green tiles. It was one of the highlights of my life.”
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