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European-American Topics - Cinema - We Want Roses, Too

SIFF 2008: We Want Roses, Too
(Italian title: Italian title: Vogliamo Anche Le Rose)

Italy/Switzerland 2007
Review by Asli Omur
Posted June 1, 2008


We Want Roses, Too is a black and white, sometimes in color docu-spoof and real-life look into the lives of Italian women in the 1960s and 70s on the verge of sexual revolution.

            The film opens with a 20-something girl in 50s fashion, wandering through a shop with comical narration of how “you are a woman, therefore naturally curious,” you must see, you must know and on it goes as the girl breaks into song asking the future what will become of her womanhood. A magical mirror shows her nude hippies dancing around a campfire to which she gasps in fright. The scene follows by women of a certain age that are simply referred to as “marriageable.”

            The film touches upon Article 151 in Italian law that proclaims the “Husbands Authority” in the union of marriage, the role the Catholic Church has played in dictating the sexual life of women in Italy and “honor crimes” that were only outlawed in the 1980s.

            We Want Roses Too casually enters the homes and private spaces of Italian women of the time all the while using the diaries of three young women in the midst of feminist discourse and liberation to discuss abortion, divorce and the stereotypical ideas of marriage as an Italian girls’ destiny, not a choice. The diaries of Anita, Teresa and Valentina represent different time periods and locations within Italy, their experiences with their maturing bodies and sexuality. Their perspectives in their own words, feels like being an “outsider” to their own femininity. Revulsion, anger and confusion permeate the screen, particularly when Anita proclaims that “Boys are only concerned about pleasure;” naturally their own masculine pleasure. Coming to terms with her own fathers’ infallibility, she writes that she wants to yell at him, “Look how you have messed me up!”

When young people are asked what they feel about sex education courses, they claim Italy is not as “sexually progressive as Sweden” and therefore will be offended. When women fearful of sexual intercourse are advised by a male counselor, he negatively declares, “So, you’re frigid.”

The young women often refer to themselves as “erupting volcanoes” in a consumer society that uses male and female sexuality to collide and sell product.

Anita’s fears of sex, Teresa’s nightmares of a three headed baby after an abortion, Valentina’s anger towards women considered to be good lovers makes her spiteful and yet make all three faceless women endearing and true to life the world over. A husband’s response to feminism as feeling “violently attacked and beaten” is shocking. Another Sicilian woman’s proclamation that her husband is her “boss” and Valentina’s solitary masturbation that is looked down upon make this film even more heart-wrenching. 

We Want Roses Too is eerie. Disturbing footage of protests in which women are beaten for inciting demonstration and old commercial images of a perfect housewife pepper the film, all the while sticking true to the loneliness of womanhood in a man’s world and the beauty of the female form.


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