Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bitter Moon (Roman Polanski, 1992)

For Roman Polanski apparently being a well-respected director (he is, isn't he?), I don't think I've ever seen a film of his that I've really liked. Bitter Moon was not to be that film, either. The story of an incredibly stereotypical upper-crust British couple Nigel and Fiona (Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott-Thomas) who are taking a cruise to India to save their marriage (apparently?) and meet wheelchair-bound Oscar (Peter Coyote) and his young, sexy wife Mimi (Emmanuelle Segnier). Oscar notices that Nigel really wants to screw Mimi, and begins telling the couple's long, sordid tale. Oscar apparently is a "writer," but one who was never published or accomplished anything, so he revels in telling this staid, polite man the at times disgusting tale of how he and Mimi arrived on this ship.

In short: on a Parisian bus, Oscar passes Mimi a ticket when she doesn't have one, and gets kicked off the bus. He puts it in one of his trite novels, as getting a piece of heaven and then losing it immediately. After searching for her, they find each other and fall madly in lust. They fuck. A lot. Eventually, they get tired of each others' bodies and start doing increasingly extreme things, starting with BDSM, up to golden showers and an incredibly weird, uncomfortable scene where Oscar pretends to be a pig. Yep. Even after all that, Oscar gets tired of Mimi, and tries to dump her; she, being a young girl who is blindly in love for some God knows reason, begs him to stay, so he lets her, but also decides to make her life as miserable as possible in order to make her leave.

The scenes where Oscar is deliberately torturing Mimi, making fun of her in front of their friends, to the ultimate test he puts her through, made me incredibly uncomfortable to watch. And not the good kind of "My boundaries are being tested" uncomfortable, but more like the "Ohmygod this is so misogynistic and disgusting" uncomfortable. Even when Mimi reenters his life and exacts revenge, I never once felt the same disgust for her that I had for Oscar, nor did I ever have an ounce of pity for him (although he is pitiful). Not to say that Coyote and Segnier don't deliver good performances, because they do, especially Segnier (Polanski's lover at the time), who, although she isn't given much to do other than be sexy, really commands your attention every time she is onscreen.

For a film that is apparently supposed to push boundaries and be about (sexual) ethics and fidelity, it really is a bore. No characters are really anything more than easily predictable stereotypes, especially Nigel and Fiona, for whom I found nothing to care about. And then there's the ending (spoiler ahead, in case you want to tackle this beast); Mimi and Fiona find themselves, obviously, making love with one another. Because, according to Polanski, that's what unfulfilled wives will do, lesbian out with one another! It's a disgusting ending to a male gaze-filled film that was just Polanski's wet dream about his lover put to celluloid. Even the poster above is filled with men looking at Mimi; she might as well not be a woman, just a pair of legs and a vagina. This movie never should have been made, at least in this sloppy form. It's pseudo-intellectual, incredibly sexist crap that wasn't worth almost three hours of my life.


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Comments on "Bitter Moon (Roman Polanski, 1992)"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:56 AM) : 

A crappy review of the masterful Bitter Moon. Your review reads like someone writing in a pretentious post-grad Women's Studies class.


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