Friday, January 20, 2012

Tenue de soirée

1986, France, directed by Bertrand Blier

I don't think there's a wilder, funnier twenty minutes in the entire Blier oeuvre than the opening of Tenue de soirée, and while the film can't sustain that extraordinary momentum it has a fine time trying. Gérard Depardieu hurricanes into the lives of small-time losers Michel Blanc and Miou-Miou, spinning them into a world of criminality and romance, though the target of Depardieu's affections is the mousy Blanc rather than his girlfriend. Blier makes hay with the physical differences between the two actors, Depardieu looming barrel-chested over the scrawny Blanc, who is cast very much to type at this phase of his career, ever the pathetic loser (with Patrice Leconte, perhaps surprisingly, the director to find something darker in that persona a couple of years later).

The Depardieu-Blanc couple is the logical extension of much of Blier's previous work going back as far as Les Valseuses, which dances around the idea of a gay couple "liberated" from the need for a woman, although this being Blier there's no time to pause for domestic bliss -- conflict is hard-wired in almost all of his characters, no matter how magnetic their attraction.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States