Flesh (1968)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Sex Comedy, Trash Film  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Craig Butler

As with many of Paul Morrissey's films, Flesh is definitely not for everyone. Leaving aside the film's avant-garde nature as a reason for some to feel excluded, there's an extreme abundance of the titular subject on display here, most of it male and a great deal located south of the abdominal equator -- so anyone with an aversion to sex and/or nudity should simply not even bother. Those who prefer a strong narrative, clearly defined motivations and themes, precise structural details in the screenplay, polished dialogue, Oscar-calibre performances, swift pacing, razor-sharp editing, and/or professional-level sound and camerawork can also look elsewhere. For the minority that's left, however, Flesh is likely to be something of a revelation -- a revelation of exactly what is hard to say, but those tuned in to Morrissey's peculiar wave will likely find the extreme lengthy shots strangely hypnotic; the jarring jump cuts exciting; the largely improvised dialogue enlivening, amusing and revealing; the naturalistic acting style (especially of the naïvely charismatic Joe Dallesandro) fascinating and compelling; and the entire atmosphere of alienation, melancholy, and aimlessness surprisingly touching. While Flesh lacks almost all of the qualities that make a good film, it still is a unique and hard-to-forget experience that almost unconsciously makes the viewer wonder if anyone can ever really be at home in his own flesh.