Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Préparez vos mouchoirs

1978, France/Belgium, directed by Bertrand Blier

Although it doesn't have the rampant, sometimes scattershot energy of 1974's Les Valseuses, Bertrand Blier's second film with the Gérard Depardieu-Patrick Dewaere tandem is almost as insistent in pushing against, and through, normal standards of behaviour - as well as our expectations about the logic of cinematic narration. As in almost all of his films, Blier is intensely concerned with gender roles, and constantly toys with the viewer; while his depiction of female characters, including in this film, often prompts cries of misogyny, more often than not his real intent seems to be to call the spectator's own assumptions and participation into question (a theme given a detailed reading in Sue Harris's finely argued book Bertrand Blier). It's interesting, too, to contrast critical responses to Blier's Beau-père with this film, which also features a relationship between an adult and an adolescent, but with the gender roles reversed.

While Depardieu is more buttoned-down here than in many of his 1970's roles, where he often played a variation of the hulking loubard, there's a sense that something unpredictable is always lurking beneath the surface - as is quickly affirmed by his character's behaviour in the opening scene. Although he doesn't reach quite the peak achieved in films like La Meilleure façon de marcher, Dewaere is a fine foil for the young Depardieu, and there's a palpable sense of two actors enjoying working with Blier's finely-wrought dialogue (the sequence when they concoct an imaginary meeting with Mozart - the picture comes from this scene - is especially well-played). As on other occasions, Dewaere's onscreen work seems to foreshadow his tragic - and tragically young - death: here, he speaks of the stupidity of Mozart's death at 35, the age when the actor took his own life.

No comments:


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States