Bertolucci attempts to say that unspoiled beauty is worth preserving. Liv Tyler is charming as the foil to a group of freewheeling, lusting adults living by the Italian countryside (apparently the party never ends!). Jeremy Irons is great, as is Darius Khondji's luminous cinematography. Less great, however, is the episodic story, silly ending and a chain-smoking painter/sculptor trying too hard to be Mark Rothko.
"The movie plays like the kind of line a rich older guy would lay on a teenage model, suppressing his own intelligence and irony in order to spread out before her the wonderful world he would like to give her as a gift. Look at these hills! These sunsets! Smell the herbed air! See how the light catches the old rose-coveredvilla!" -Roger Ebert
The soundtrack was at times overly literal, and some characters were cartoony, but Bertolucci was able to cultivate a sexualized atmosphere that builds up and, eventually, releases. I'm going to disobey the guy's code and say: it was cute.