Les Valseuses 1974
In the Seventies our set of Jewish adolescents went to see this daring movie with its explicit scenes of sex and nudity. One of our group, being derided as prim although all of us were inexperienced, did not like the film and after she left she came in for some patronising criticism. Forty years on I revisited the film and acknowledged she was right.
The film launched two successful film careers – those of Gerard Depardieu and writer/director Bertrand Blier. It was really ‘buddy road movie meets Jules et Jim’. For all its explicit content, it was a traditional French movie of the ménage a trois, numerous meal sequences, and unclear ending. Yet it was so dated it would now not be made for its violent attitude to women, who were beaten and sexually abused. It’s the story of two delinquent young criminals almost always on the run. Gerard Depardieu himself as a lad was a “loubard” ( delinquent), but there was no denying his magnetic presence. As with Jean Paul Belmondo, his stellar career showed good conventional looks are not always de rigeur. Jeanne Moreau, herself “jolie laide” (pretty/ ugly), gave a fine cameo. She of course starred in Jules et Jim. Watch out for a feisty performance of a very young Isabelle Huppert as a rebellious adolescent.
The film, though funny, was sordid, violent and its moral values highly questionable. Blier went on to have further success as writer and director whilst Depardieu was one of the handful of French actors to have Hollywood recognition in Green Card. La Potiche showed he has not lost his magneticism though his liking of wine has taken its toll.