THE PROFESSOR ( also known by INDIAN SUMMER/ LA PRIMA NOTTE DE QUIETE) , directed by Valerio Zurlini (1972) stars Alain Delon, hung over from extreme outlets of his desire.
Bleary eyes and pretty pout, Delon 's visage could burn paper. He is not unlike Caan's character in Reisz' THE GAMBLER, who carries a burden in the space under the eyes, a hangover of a passionate man, an addict; be it one not addicted to substances.
Delon comes into town as if from another galaxy, love hangover in tow. His loves expressed at the outset are cultural. His tastes make his mind and soul explode, and most inhabitants of this bourgeois seaside town fail to intoxicate. Flat out telling them all he gives a shit about is poetry, it only takes one night out on the (small) town for him to start gambling and subsequently falling in love with a student, one also marked by some singular severity, and lack of cheap joy that the rest of the dullards in class seem to so easily come by.
As nights out increase, the obliterating effect of boring days intensifies the need to experience stimulation. We witness transgressionin the clubs and casinos: shared sexual partners, cocaine, gambling.
The professor falls in love with his student though both are committed to others. The dynamic is a physical crystallization of the poetry that he lives to teach.
The film, at this point, seems to me to have a lot in common with THE GAMBLER ( both versions, actually.). Less of the plot turns and suspense of Toback's script, the danger in this film is more somber, melancholy, equivalent to any expected dread of eventuality for someone who can only bother to live for extremes. It is the same to expect a horrible ending whether one transgresses or not.
And if transgression is the only thing that makes you wake or move without pain, then the choice is nonexistent.
There is a scene where the fantasy of the extreme lover is answered. The other man who shares his lover is kicked down on the ground. Shared fantasy concretized. A movie lover's movie, imperfect at that, but who else is the picture speaking to?
Pay heed others who love hard, movies, books, girlfriends, boyfriends, drugs ... Illustrated is the projection of shared fantasy cleaves the sadness and weakness that makes us heavy.
The harder we love the more we lose.
The projection fulfilled on screen is redemptive, even if we are the worst enemy of ourselves, dooming our final acts.
The film's tone is curious, not unlike a nuanced somber tonal poem, one with lilting melodies that hit high and then low, yet continues for a long time, denying any thing except repetition of the same notes.