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The intercut story of two women: a nearly-mute beauty queen who descends into withdrawal and madness, and another who captains a ship laden with candy and sugar, luring men and boys aboard for sex, death, and revolutionary talk. The beauty queen passes from a wealthy husband whose honeymoon delight is to urinate on her, to a muscular keeper who punches her, stows her in a suitcase, and ships her to Paris, to a lip-synching rock idol with whom she has a love spasm, to an Austrian commune complete with a banquet of vomit, urine, feces, chopped dildos, and wet nurses. By then she's in a fetal position, until everyone's rescued by reminders that "it's just a movie." Written by
the overall impact is like a sugar rush- a good high and a big crash with a few moments of extra sweetness...
...and if that statement makes sense, you should see this movie! This is a very funny movie for its first half, because one-of-a-kind director Dusan Makavejev populates his mess of randomness with the same docu-in-your-face absurdity and crude outrageous view of sex that his best film, WR, had. We meet Mr. Kapital (John Vernon, of all people, though it is not his own genitals used when the character is seen on camera with them dipped in gold) who brushes a napkin across his daughter (if it is his daughter, maybe his girlfriend, played by Carole Laure) on one side of the super loose narrative-side, and on the other Potemkin Sailor (ho-ho), who takes on board a stray, even though to have sex with her will lead to certain death.
Then there's also Jeremiah Muscle, who flaunts his black snake like it's nobody's business but the lady's, and a Hispanic singing sensation (on record only, of course, as he makes a music video with the backdrop of the Eifel tower, leading to getting stuck with another women in the act), all mixed up in a crazy lot of scenes that emphasize phallus imagery, the female form, and bright, primary colors- as Makavejev put it "a love letter to Kodak".
This isn't to say the film doesn't take more than a little- actually quite a lot of- work on the viewer to know what the hell is going on. Like WR, the director throws in a few times throughout some real found-documentary footage, only this time without much relevance to the film that the director has made around it (albeit the song used in the clips is excellent). And yet for the first half of Sweet Movie this isn't of a terrible concern, at least for one knowing that the unexpected and anarchic is all in tasteless fun. It's is a little like if there was a rogue Marxist (i.e. the awesome pipe Kapital has, and the ship's main mast) who got kicked out of Monty Python and was obsessed with genitals and went off and made an independent film.
That is, for the first half, anyway. After this, when Miss Canada/1984/whomever runs into the commune group- this is where, all of a sudden, the randomness of tasteless acts starts to try one's patience. I can even see what Makavejev was going for here without trying to add to much meaning to what it all is: the disgusting depravity with food, vomiting, infantilism, nudity, barbarism of communism as satire. But it just goes on for much too long; where the first half had little stabs of wild wit, this, along with the long sequence with Anna Planeta around the young boys, soon fall flat not because of there not being any cohesive narrative structure, but because they just aren't as captivating, or hilarious, as what came before.
It might be a tough act to follow such a crafty and controversial hybrid like WR Mysteries of the Organism, but Makavejev's method of throwing caution completely into the wind soon starts to reel into the tedious, with the exception of the sugar sex scene and Laure's naked chocolate session, which are some of the best scenes in the film. This being noted, the shards that do work in Sweet Movie make it a somewhat worthwhile viewing; certainly for those who are die-hard avant-garde cineasts Sweet Movie marks as something like an X-rated milkshake- lots and lots of nudity and pushing-the-line sexual acts done to a style that can only come out of a man with a real vision at work.
What it is precisely I can't quite say. It is, at the least, an 'experience' of its time and mood. That it's not the sort of work one would want to watch it again from start to finish for quite a long time (unlike WR) is its biggest sort of drawback.
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