A misguided attempt to dramatize the psychological triad formed by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (Erland Josephson), his Jewish friend Paul Rees (Robert Powell), and a Russian girl named Lou Von Salome (Dominique Sanda), this overbearing drama fails mightily. Nietzsche is portrayed as a jealous sociopath who drives Rees to suicide, and director Liliana Cavani cannot resist including a drug-hallucination ballet about Good and Evil which approaches the excesses of her controversial Il Portiere di Notte in its melodramatic sexual hysteria. Cavani's film is feverish where it should have been calculating and lurid where it should have been provocative. The result may be the first exploitation film aimed at philosophy students, and even deft supporting turns by Virna Lisi and Philippe Leroy cannot make the dialogue -- drawn hamfistedly from Nietzsche's own writings -- any less ridiculous.
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