Stefano and Giovanna represent a typical upper middle class couple of Northern Italy at the time, bored after eight years of marriage. Franco Giraldi immediately puts the cards on the table in the first scene, while they are on a boat on the lake: their routine has become so monotonous that both predict with their thoughts what their spouse is going to say. While Stefano indulges in escapades, with his secretary, and goes with prostitutes, what really upsets him is the idea of the exchange of couples, that is, the fact that it is his wife who is cheating on him even in a game of apparent complicity.
The director provides a merciless portrait of Italian society at the time, in the transition of a decade and at a key point of its social modernization, the introduction of the legal institution of divorce which occurred, in a context of extreme laceration of the political forces, at the end of the year in which Cuori solitari was released, 1970. An echo of the film is in the demonstration of the anti-divorce committee for public moralization, of which Stefano is a supplier and in which he hypocritically participates. And here corruption is also added to Giraldi’s ruthless portrait of Italy, with the committee’s emissary demanding a bribe. The moralistic event in the church is followed by the protest of the pro-divorce freaks of which Giovanna’s alternative brother is a member.
Franco Giraldi’s gaze is severe on everyone. Giovanna’s brother, who claims the life of a hippie, who rejects the world of those who go to work in ties, is generously provided with food, tips and even a camera by his bourgeois sister. The fake swinger, whose wife actually turns out to be an escort hired by him, talks ridiculously about neo-capitalist exploitation. In the year in which Italy was divided between those in favor and those against divorce, the very transgressive practice of swinging between couples was evidently already widespread, as demonstrated by the many ads in this sense in the erotic magazines that Stefano buys, ashamed like Woody Allen in The Dictator of The Free State of Bananas. But after all, this is the paradox that Giraldi puts before us. The exchange of couples provides for the couple by definition, is a mutual and conscious adultery, and is therefore absolutely compatible with marriage and its indissolubility.
Genre: comedy – drama
Ugo Tognazzi: Stefano
Senta Berger: Giovanna
Silvano Tranquilli: Diego
Clara Colosimo: Carla
Luis Bacalov soundtrack