Natali is a metal sculpture of a naked woman in an erotic pose. The sculptor, the Professor, won’t sell. A former student appears and seeks to interrogate him about his relationships with women, in particular Mi-Ran, who may or may not be the inspiration for Natali. The younger man wants to buy the sculpture, but why exactly? We are taken back in time as the sculptor describes his passionate sexual relationship with dance student Mi-Ran, his account of events critiqued by the increasingly irate visitor. Their love affair came to a halt ten years ago, but has it ended? The visitor picks up the story and we learn how things turned out.
I can’t say that any aspect of this film is wholly convincing – the interview, the rather idealised affair or why it had to stop (something I didn’t really get) – nor did I really believe in Mi-Ran as a character. She’s very beautiful but that’s pretty much it. Maybe it’s fair to say that neither man’s testimony is entirely true; why should they be? The sculptor’s romantic sexual relationship with her is cleverly contrasted with the gratuitous sexual affair he has since enjoyed(?) with his curator, their sweaty humping versus the tenderness and adoration given to Mi-Ran. Presumably the sex scenes are where the 3D fad is meant to pay off; I had some old 3D glasses but all I ever get from those is a headache.
I’d say that Natali descends into bathos, right at the very end, so that might even be a recommendation for more cynical viewers. It’s probably meant to be a film about the mysteries and verities of love, true or false, real or imagined; it’s just that one is left sniggering over the closing credits. I suspect both men want the statue of Natali for purely carnal purposes (see the film and you’ll understand).
Lovingly photographed, more intelligent than most erotic movies, a beautiful leading lady and just enough of the ludicrous to send you away with a smile.