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Occupying a creepy cinematic netherworld somewhere between Eurocrime and erotica, Carlo Lizzani s Teenage Prostitution Racket (Storie di Vita e Malavita) is an unapologetically sordid film that explores the troubled sexuality of a series of young women coming of age in 1970s Milan. Beginning on the outskirts
of town, where a peasant woman pimps her thirteen-year-old companion to passing truck drivers, Lizzani s film worms its way into the metropolis, where
the oldest profession, in its varied forms, is dramatized in a series of interlocking narratives. A working-class girl is lured into prostitution by a boyfriend; a rich girl uses sex to rebel against her wealthy parents; a photographer s model discovers sex is an unspoken requirement of her job; an ex-convent girl becomes a nymphomaniac after being seduced at school; an independent hooker relies on a vicious dog to defend her against a gang of mobsters. As sensational as
the episodes may be, Lizzani doesn t reduce the characters to mere sex objects. Instead, he endows each woman with enough depth that even the most voyeuristic viewer can t help but become invested in her struggles to survive, and share her resentment toward the shady characters who try to control her.