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I had mixed feelings for "Les Valseuses" (1974) written and directed by Bertrand Blier when I started watching it but I ended up liking it. I would not call it vulgar ("Dumb and Dumber" is vulgar, "The Sweetest Thing" is both vulgar and unforgivably stupid); I would call it shocking and offensive. I can understand why many viewers, especially, the females would not like or even hate it. It is the epitome of misogyny (or so it seems), and the way two antiheroes treat every woman they'd meet seems unspeakable. But the more I think of it the more I realize that it somehow comes off as a delightful little gem. I am fascinated how Blier was able to get away with it. The movie is very entertaining and highly enjoyable: it is well written, the acting by all is first - class, and the music is sweet and melancholic. Actually, when I think of it, two buddies had done something good to the women they came across to: they prepared a woman in the train (the lovely, docile blonde Brigitte Fossey who started her movie career with one of the most impressive debuts in René Clément's "Forbidden Games"(1952) at age 6) for the meeting with her husband whom she had not seen for two months; they found a man who was finally able to get a frigid Marie-Ange (Miou-Miou) exited and satisfied; they enlightened and educated young and very willing Isabelle Huppert (in one of her early screen appearances.) Their encounter with Jeanne Moreau elevates this comedy to the tragic level. In short, I am not sure I'd like to meet Gérard Depardieu's Jean-Claude and Patrick Dewaere's Pierrot in real life and invite them over for dinner but I had a good time watching the movie and two hours almost flew - it was never boring.
This is one a most famous movies of the French sexual empowerment of
the seventies, starring Gerard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere in
extremely sarcastic roles. It is also one of the many dark
psychological dramas of the seventies/eighties, such as "Serie Noire",
"Buffet Froid", "Beau Pere", all realized by Blier.
However, I would like to correct the previous comment that was posted on the movie: the translated title in English is very far from the French version. It is true that both protagonists are "going places", but the title in French could be literally translated by "the waltz dancers", which is a metaphor for the movement of the testicles...
The movie has a distinct (albeit brutish and rough) humanity for all its borderline depravity - the zippy/lyrical score points up the comic side of their misadventures, and even when they're at their most thuggish (like terrorizing the woman on the train), a semi-pitiful vulnerability lurks never far away (Dewaere sucks on her breasts like a baby). Blier cuts away from the scene where Depardieu may be about to rape Dewaere, so we're never sure how explicitly to read the manifestly homoerotic aspect of their relationship - either way, that incident is the start of their relative humanization (so the movie could certainly be read as pro-gay, although it could likely be read as pro-anything you want). The movie has many objectionable scenes and points of sexual politics and is probably best taken as a general cartoon on the foibles of both sexes, making a mockery of the whole notion of sensitivity and honesty, and hitting numerous points of possible profundity on the basis that if you fire off enough shots, some of them are bound to hit.
A wonderful, free flowing, often lyrical film that whisks you along, ever smiling, even if there are truly shocking incidents along the way. One gasps at the way the women are treated and yet ultimately they seem to come through very well and it is much credit to all concerned that so many potentially disastrous scenes all work so very well. This is possibly Depardieu's best performance, certainly his most natural. Jeanne Moreau performs outstandingly in what must have been a very difficult role to play and including vigorous sex scenes with a couple of guys at least half her age. Miou-Miou is lovely throughout and again has very difficult scenes to play. Initially this seems a down and dirty misogynist rant/romp but as the tale and characters unfold a much more tender and honest picture emerges. In the end this uncompromising and daring film demands respect.
Not so many people like the movies of Bertrand blier simply because they
don't understand them.
Simply because they are different kinds of people.
If you have not been living under a deep desperation intertwined with great personal hope it may be hard for you to enjoy the humor blier shown here.
And also the film of blier cannot be classified easily as black-comedy or cult etc. like those of pulp fiction etc. Because there is this delicacy which the audience of north-america frequently fail to appreciate.
When I looked at these two `hooligans' dining with Jeanne moreau in the seaside restaurant, I felt they were more gentil than any gentleman can have been.
The urge to make love wildly like these is the normal reaction we feel under the unbearable pressure of meaningless being-symbolized by the camion suddenly emerges at the Carrefour.
SO, les valseuses is much better a name than going places. To dance a valse you need to be elegant, but going places you don't.
I originally saw this film years ago during Cinemax Friday after dark series(back when the cable box was built like a keyboard),and it intrigued me. Even though there is a pointless aspect to the film it is well acted.The performances of Depardieu & Dewaere are very enjoyable.They have a good chemistry together & Miou-Miou makes a pink fur look breathtaking.A movie like this probably wouldn't be made in these politically correct times(at least not in the US), since it seems to sensationalize things like violence,robbery,& casual sex. This movie proves that with a talented cast & also talented directing a good movie is a good movie no matter the subject.It saddened me to find out Patrick Dewaere committed suicide & in the near future I,ll will check him out with Depardieu & Miou-Miou in Get Out Your Hankerchief.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not sure if this counts as a spoiler or not, so beware:
Just a small but crucial thing to watch for, an intriguing possibility: the boys steal a green Citroen at one point, for a joy ride, and return it to the owner having done purposeful and vengeful hidden damage to the car, hoping that the owner will crash. Is it the very same car they steal much later from the picnicking family? We know the original owner sold it. They drive off at the end on a dangerous road, one which I understand has been closed to all but pedestrians for the last ten years. A whole new slant to the end of the film.
On another matter, this film could have been called "Scent of a Woman". I don't recall another film, certainly not American, that treats the scent of a woman in such a frank and open manner, much like the "nose" of a fine Bordeaux.
I can remember seeing this movie as a kid in 1977 or 1978. HBO would show it late at night back when they were they one and only movie pay channel in existence. Back then it was UNRATED and was the only movie of its kind ever shown on pay television...especially back then. I would love to see it now as an adult where I would be more apt to understand the adult theme of it. It was probably the closest thing I had ever seen to pornography at the young age of 7 or 8. Luckily I had stupid babysitters and party-going parents on the weekends. Most of my memory of this movie was the completely erratic sexual behavior of these two guys. Breaking into houses to sniff underwear, feeding on a stranger's breast milk on a public bus, and fornicating in a cab at the request of one of their female subjects were just a few of the whacked escapades these guys were pulling off. A very racy film for the early '70s. Until I checked IMDb, I had no idea this movie had such a following. Most people I talk to have never heard of it.
Bertrand Blier is indeed l'enfant terrible of French cinema and in the seventies he always could shock the public. Filmed with his fave duo (Depardieu and Dewaere) and the usual dose of sex (Miou-Miou plays her typical role, at least the one from the seventies as little could we know that a decade later she would be the best French actress ever). In first "Les Valseuses" is also one of the first roadmovies as the viewer is just taken to some journeys of two little criminals. Those who only are satisfied with family life, or simply know nothing more, the movie would be quite a shocker but this movie is more than just that, it just let you think of all the usual things in life (working for the car, being bounded at work etc.). It's a sort of critic towards the hypocrite society we're living in. Great job and it just makes you wish two things : Dewaere died just too young as he was a topactor and of course Depardieu, he'd better should have stuck with French movies as he proves here that no one can beat him. Timeless classic and 20 years later it will still shock some...
Les Valseuses (aka Going Places) is part road movie, part buddy movie (Depardieu and Dewaere). They play a pair of morally bankrupt petty crooks and car thieves who go from place to place displaying misogyny at every turn with remarkably compliant women. These include Jeanne Moreau who is on screen less than 20 minutes, Brigitte Fossey and a very young Isabelle Huppert. The only recurring female character is played by Miou-Miou who is subjected routinely to physical and sexual abuse. Sex comedies of the 1970s in any language seem crass and unfunny now, and this is no exception. Some comfort is offered by soundtrack music featuring the late Stéphane Grappelli, French jazz violinist extraordinaire.
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