Valeria dentro e fuori [Valerie Wife Of David] (1972) February 2, 2020 16:02
If you're looking for a Barbara Bouchet film that's a little outside the norm of Italian cornball comedy and serial killer slashers then look no further than the little psychotic drama Valeria dentro e fuori (Valerie Wife Of David). While the finer details of the film could have been a little more clearer, Valerie Wife Of David is a decent vehicle to showcase Barbara's true acting chops and not simply her physical assets.
As the title suggests, Valerie Wife Of David stars Barbara Bouchet as Valeria the emotionally disturbed wife of composer and choreographer David Rocchi (Pier Paolo Capponi). From the start of the film it's pretty clear their marriage is on the rocks, Valeria resents her husband for constantly working and treating her like a possession, and for supposedly not being interested in having a child. She spends most of her days locked up in their apartment going stir crazy from lack of human interaction and disturbing thoughts and dreams.
To try and recoup her sanity Valeria decides to get a job, but David is apathetic that she'll have any success in keeping one. Things seem to go well at the start but Valeria soon finds herself being overwhelmed with sexual thoughts around other men sometimes leading her to expose herself to them. Her breaking point is when she comes on to David's brother Marco in the elevator. After David learns of this Valeria snaps and turns violent, leading David to commit her to a mental institution.
The second half of the film centers around Valeria's time in the mental institution, her spiral into what is diagnosed as schizophrenia with erotic tendencies, and her interaction with the residents at the facility, mainly Evi (Erna Schurer) a former model who exhibits similar behavior.
The largest flaw with the film is the spotty back story of Valeria's illness, whether her encounters with other men are real or imagined and the confusion many people seem to have in misinterpreting that David is somehow the root cause of Valeria's insanity, with the few summaries on IMDB incorrectly stating that David refuses to have sex with her because he doesn't want a child. While David is definitely a cold and emotionless character there's no indication that he is why Valeria goes nuts, and to the contrary David bluntly asks Valeria she wants to have sex a couple of times in the first part of the film only to be immediately turned down.
Near the middle of the film, following Valeria's encounter in the elevator with David's brother, the main reason for Valeria's state is revealed by David when he tells his brother that she wants a child very badly but "Valeria can't have children" and she "can't seem to get over it". This seems to suggest she cannot physically get pregnant, and her inability to come to terms with this has consumed her for so long that she's gone mad, to the point that she has begun to blame David and seek out (or fantasize) other men thinking they'll give her what she longs for.
If you catch this brief explanation the film makes a little more sense and isn't something as blatantly petty as David not wanting children, despite David's seemingly cold behavior towards Valeria you have to take into consideration that it's likely his behavior towards her is due to years of having to deal with Valeria's condition and the film shows the last stage of that relationship not the journey that got it there. Considering David pays for Valeria's treatment and frequently comes and checks up on her suggests he does actually care about her to some degree.
All that aside the silver lining of the film is Barbara Bouchet's performance. Once again this is another rare occasion where Barbara is actually the star of the film and not simply given top billing for a five minute role. Much like her brief role in the cult classic Colpo rovente [Red Hot Shot] Barbara proves she's more than simply a sex symbol, and shines in a role that's pretty dark and very serious. Whether it's the bitter, emotionally distraught house wife or full on sex crazed schizophrenic Barbara Bouchet puts 100% into this role and shows her true acting talent that's not always front and center in some of her more comedic performances.
With that said overall, Valerie Wife Of David is still a mediocre story that doesn't do a very good job setting up the backstory of the main character and quickly progresses through a mental disorder in what appears to be a matter of days. Saved by Barbara Bouchet's performance alone, it's worth checking out if you're a big fan, but otherwise if you're looking for a really good film that explores schizophrenia then I'd suggest A Beautiful Mind.