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If I'm not mistaken, the UK release title for this film was "Doctor In The
Nude," which is very suggestive, but gets to the point--and an especially
delicious point that is when the "nude" doctor is played by none other than
Alain Delon, still sleek and at the age of 45! I have no idea if there was
cut version (but wouldn't be surprised as this is an over 20-year old
mainstream release and contains full frontal male--as well as
female--nakedness), but the version I saw contained a tantalizing and
protracted sea romp full of naked, middle-aged but thankfully fit men and
women. Delon is gorgeous as usual here, could pass for about 10 years
younger and possesses the hard-bodied physique of a 20 year old. He plays
Dr. Devilers (get the symbolism?), the sinister head of a posh clinic,
clientele consists exclusively of affluent middle-aged to old people who
come there for "rejuvenation" treatments to make them feel and look
Anne Giradot plays Helene, a fashion designer who comes to the clinic
she feels "old" after being dumped by her lover for a younger woman. She's
pleased when the costly treatments (ostensibly derived from animals)
apparently seem to work, and also by the carnal ministrations of the lusty
doctor, but is disturbed by the disappearances and demise of the young
Portugese men who work there. Soon she discovers the the horrifying
connection, but no one will believe her--everyone is too content with how
they look and feel to care about anything else.
Although this is far from being a great (or original) suspense, the unsettling atmosphere and fine performances certainly kept me riveted. Giradot capably displays the discontent of the aging Helene, then her growing desperation and panic as she seeks to uncover the truth. Delon once again proves he's the master of what the French call "sang-froid"--here he oozes his characteristic lethal, seductive spell. And going back to that ocean scene for fans of Delon--since he's jumping and splashing around so much, you kind of have to concentrate, if you know what I mean. And if it is a double and not him--well, it doesn't matter cause we can fantasize, can't we?!
Alain Jessua has made some of the most disturbing movies of a generally
tame French cinema (mainly in the seventies and early eighties unless
some "avant-garde" drivel like "themroc" counts). Barely ten movies in
almost forty years.His best works are to be found between 1972 and
1982,his most fruitful decade which begins with "traitement de choc"
and encompasses forgotten works such as "les chiens " "Armaguedon" and
"paradis pour tous" . "Traitement de choc" is his towering achievement
though:and not only because Delon and Girardot are completely naked for
one sequence by the sea .There's much more substance to find here.The
core of movie is the fear of dying ,and when you see so many people
worship their body today,you cannot deny this flick was ahead of its
In a strange clinic , doctors Delon and Duchaussoy make people look younger ,thanks to animal cells.That's what they say.Their patients set up a small community of happy few .Girardot who has been ditched by her partner and who comes to think she begins to get old enters the place.Little by little,strange things happen:a lot of the staff (migrant workers) are sent back home because they've got the homesick blues.That's what they say.One of her friend commits suicide because he was broke and could not afford this luxury anymore.That's what they say.The tension increases and in the last fifteen minutes ,"traitement de choc" becomes a true horror film.(One should note it was made the same year as "Solyent Green").
"Traitement de choc" is the selfishness of the bourgeoisie ,the power of money,the eternal dream of perpetual youth which haunts all of us ,man's exploitation of his fellow man (in every sense of the term)."Shock therapy" indeed.
When the executive of the fashion industry Hélène Masson (Annie
Girardot) is dumped by her lover, she has a midlife crisis and her
friend Gérôme Savignat (Robert Hirsch) advises her to spend vacation in
the isolated rejuvenation clinic owned by Dr. Devilers (Alain Delon)
and his partner Dr. Berbard (Michel Duchaussoy). Hélène is welcomed by
the happy clients and befriends the Portuguese employee João, who is an
illegal immigrant, practicing her knowledge in Portuguese language with
After the first injection of a formula based on animal blood, Hélène feels very well. But soon Gérôme can not afford to pay the treatment and commits suicide. Then João disappears and Dr. Devilers does not allow her to check-out the clinic. Hélène is suspicious that something is wrong and she goes further in her investigation of the clinic and finds the secret of the rejuvenation formula of Dr. Devilers.
"Traitement de Choc" is an unbelievable story of a doctor that uses illegal immigrants as an important component of his formula of rejuvenation. The story is of the same year of "Soylent Green" and both uses human blood and flesh with different purposes. The director Alain Jessua uses a bold but also silly scene of frontal nudity of the actors and actresses that does not add any value to the movie. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Tratamento Diabólico" ("Devilish Treatment")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Alvin Toffler's "Future Shock" was required reading on college campuses
across America back in 1972 and the alarmist book, "about the future
and the shock that its arrival brings" was only a forerunner of the
fears the 1970s grappled with. Many movies at the time jumped on the
bandwagon with cautionary tales and one of the better ones was Alain
Jessua's TRAITMENT DE CHOC (1973) which tells the story of Helene
(Annie Girardot), a wealthy French fashion designer who has a mid-life
crisis when her boyfriend leaves her for a younger woman. On the advice
of a friend (Robert Hirsch), she checks into a revolutionary
rejuvenation clinic run by the charismatic Dr. Devilers (Alain Delon)
where the clientèle, "a microcosm of society" consisting of judges,
politicians, bankers, and wealthy heirs, form a sort of secret sect.
Helene feels great after the first injection but when her friend can no
longer pay, he becomes a pariah in the tight-knit community and he
tries to warn her away. The next day he commits suicide and Helene is
determined to leave the spa against the doctor's advice until she's
approached by two undocumented Portugese male help who separately plead
with her to help them escape just before they disappear. Helene becomes
intent on discovering the suddenly sinister clinic's mysterious secrets
and doesn't hesitate to sleep with the doctor to find out...
The primitive "tribal" soundtrack reflects the film's premise that for all of man's technological advancements, the law of the jungle still holds with the strong preying on the weak (or, in this case, the rich feeding off the poor) in a society with more than its share of "disposables". The suspense builds slowly and the climax, although it's lost some impact after decades of similar denouements, is a shocker -but what's really scary is how little the rest of the world cares about the dreadful things Helene discovers. The similarly-themed SOYLENT GREEN was made the same year which shows that these "Me Decade" fears taken to the extreme were universal and continued to be reflected on the screen in such sci-fi films as WESTWORLD (1973), THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975), and DEATH RACE 2000 (1975). There's also a bit of "free love" commentary as the aptly named Dr. Devilers (get it?) casually sleeps with all his female patients and, compared to Hollywood films at the time, both the sympathetic treatment of a gay man (Hirsch) and the full-frontal nudity of Delon & Co. come as a bit of a shock even though both were "natural" and in context. Recommended.
'Shock Treatment' is the quoted translation at the start of this Alain
Delon flick, part of the Alain Delon 'Screen Icons' box-set. The title
used by IMDb stinks of Carry On innuendo as it belittles a popular sort
of subject when it was made in 1973.
Rejuvenation and cosmetic beautification and its perceived ramifications were subjects handled quite a bit by the likes of Michael Crichton and this rather strange brew of beauty and savagery quite neatly stitches these two aspects together.
Annie Girardot plays the retail executive out to get some posh spa treatment at the exclusive resort run by the sinister Dr Devilers (Delon). Amongst the carrot juice cocktails and seaweed scrubs are life- affirming injections, whilst the ever rotating staff of illegally working Portuguese young male staff are despondent for some reason. A fellow patient mysteriously commits suicide and so Girardot goes on the prowl and does some investigating.
The explicit nudity was indeed an eye opener as I was only aware beforehand that it was cert 15 but of course all that frivolity, naturalness and freedom comes at a price. It all becomes nicely sickening the more we know as to how the clinic works and how it gets its medical "powers".
All in all, it's quite fun, suspenseful and macabre but please don't think that it's a cheesy comedy that's only out for cheap laughs that its popular title conveys.
It is not possible for anybody to prevent films from getting negative publicity or becoming famous for 'wrong reasons'. French director Alain Jessua directed one important film in his long career which could easily belong to the above mentioned category. It is called 'Traitement De Choc'/Shock Treatment.For absolute puritans, the appearance of French actors Alain Delon and Annie Girardot in some nude scenes might be a cause of concern but for average viewers they provide a healthy dose of voyeurism which is something that is craved by all people. However, the true essence of a film cannot simply rest on the presence of just few sex scenes. This is precisely why a film like Shock Treatment is revolutionary as it was the first film in the history of cinema which heralded the use of human beings as guinea pigs for sadistic pleasures of a few denizens of a selfish capitalist society. Director Alain Jessua chose to highlight the sad plight of impoverished Portuguese boys who were deceived into selling their own bodies when they came to France in search of a better living. Shock treatment is not a horror film but some scenes are not for viewers with a weak heart. Lastly, if you have been enjoying actor Alain Delon's performances as a leading man then 'Shock Treatment' has an element of surprise in it. Watch it in order to explore it with your own eyes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Helene Masson, a busy executive from Paris goes for a special treatment
at a spa where she meets a lot more than just to give her body a treat,
and a rest from her busy schedule. The clinic where she is going to
stay is run by an enigmatic man, Dr. Devilers, whose program gets
fabulous results in restoring a youthful appearance and a special glow
to its many repeat patients, that find what they are looking for at the
hands of the able staff. Unfortunately, they will be eating a diet that
includes a lot of sea grass in its menu.
It does not take long before Helene starts noticing the Portuguese workers moving like automatons. When one of them falls in the swimming pool, she jumps to save him from drowning. There are many things that do not make sense. Helene decides to investigate, something that takes her to uncharted territory. In doing so, Helene is suspected of wanting to destroy Dr. Devilers wonderful work. She will be shocked when she realizes what she has gotten herself into.
Director Alain Jessua directed this thriller with shades of science fiction we never saw. Because of its nudity, this film probably had limited release, but not knowing for sure, we could not even hazard a guess. One of the strengths of the film is the production design by Geo Huris, Yannis Kokkos, and Constantin Mejinsky. The setting for the film looks contemporary by today's standards. The achievement of Mr. Jessua lies on the great look he gave the picture, something that is rare in films of more recent vintage. The camera work of Jacques Robin works well, as does the original score by Mr. Jessua and Rene Koering.
Annie Girardot, one of the great French cinema actresses of all times, is excellent as Helene. Alain Delon, one of the handsomest faces of the world cinema, bares it all in a sequence that will be remembered for its frankness at a time when nudity well known actors did not show their charms for audiences to see. Robert Hirsch and Michael Duchaussoy are also featured.
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