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Derek de Lint,
Experimental anthology film consisting of nine segments - Contrasts, The Janitor, The Plumber, Another Wet Dream, The Happy Necrophiliacs, On a Sunday Afternoon, A Face, Politfuck, Flames - all focused on 70s sex, love and politics.
Marilyn Jordan, an American, lives in Stockholm with her Swedish husband and family. Her behavior is bizarre, perhaps mad: she poisons the dog's milk and advises the dog not to drink it; she sets the sheets afire as her husband sleeps; she crawls under the dining table to sing. While detained at airport customs for carrying pruning shears, she meets a young Yugoslav woman and goes with her to a Gypsy enclave where she's fought over, takes a lover, helps with the sordid entertainment at a bar, and returns home more dangerous than before. The film also tells parallel stories of Marilyn's daughter becoming a junior homemaker as the young immigrant practices her striptease. Written by
On its original USA release, this film was cut by seconds to avoid receiving an "X" rating from the MPAA. This "R"-rated version was also soon seen on home video and premium cable in that country, but in more recent years the uncensored original has turned up on both as "unrated." See more »
The Madness of Civility Seeks Grounding in the Primal
Others who have commented on 'Montenegro' seem to miss the film's point. Yes, it is a black comedy; no, it's not nihilistic. The characters do not behave in incomprehensible ways - they behave in ways alien to our Western acculturation & our snobby "everybody must do nice-nice to each other" civility. 'Montenegro' takes effete, overbaked, hypersophisticated, irrelevant Western sensibilities & turns them smack on their pointed little heads.
American Marliyn Jordan (Susan Anspach in a tour de force performance) lives in Sweden with her Swedish husband. Marilyn is not, as other commentators have misapprehended, a bored, psychotic housewife - she's a woman who, in her overbaked Western milieu of mind-blenching affluence, oversensitive men & women, diplomatic euphemism, & arcane, costly, "necessary", psychobabble (brilliantly depicted, & sent up, in the analysis scene), has lost touch with all that's primal, urgent, & vital in herself.
Already whacked out from living in her gilded, padded, safe-till-she's-numbed life, Jordan impulsively hooks up with a completely primal, totally up front & no bones about it, caveman & club bunch of howling, lusty Montenegrans. Once she's with them things happen very differently from the way they failed to happen in her previous ersatz saccharine-junkie life.
Jordan is in for keeps with people who play for keeps. Lust, blood, sex, ooze, vendettas, vengeance - all the primal, classical, down-deep-in-human-nature emotions & their instantaneous acting-out - are how things are for Jordan now in Montenegro. The suddenness, violence, & clarity of emotion & action repulses us because we're so used to warning labels on everything from cigarette lighters & child safety seats, & from self-esteem minuets in schools to language prohibitions in our workplaces. All that's out the window in 'Montenegro' with Marilyn Jordan fast losing her melancholia & madness, & rushing headlong into shameless, unbridled lust, man-baiting, cat-fighting, & knock-down (with that caveman club!) & drag out sex.
Watching 'Montenegro' we Westerners are intrigued, repelled, fascinated, revolted - but we can't turn away from the fluids & furze, the basal & nasal sensation, the genitals-out-in-the-winds-of-Fate abandon, & the cathartic, orgasmic, lethal, & vital primordial reckoning that is 'Montenegro' exploding on our retinae, in our ears, on our skin, in our nostrils, & in our wide-open mouths.
One wonders if Camille Paglia has seen 'Montenegro' because one expects she'd love it, because this film delves into things primal that Paglia's betes noires - radical gender feminist ideologues - reject and label "patriarchal violence against women" & "not women's way of knowing". Let's just say that 'Montenegro' isn't likely to be high on Gloria Steinem's, Patricia Ireland's, or Susan Sontag's list of all-time favorite films. That alone tells how worthy this film is of wide open embrace & enjoyment: 'Montenegro' doesn't cave or cop to salon intellectualism, pop psychology, Botox beauty, animal rights activist solipsism, or moral relativism. This is the real deal: down to brass tacks humanity stripped of culture & deodorant & Sani-Pure flush toilets & sparkling bidets & layers of insulation from the Real.
'Montenegro' isn't Greek Tragedy, it's not Shakespearian artistry, & it sure isn't Frank Capra or Spike Lee - it's pure primal, take no prisoners, heads-on-lances, bareass naked human nature turning back the clock & stripping away the veneer of Western propriety. It's an enrapturing, refreshing, uncensored look at the way we humans were...and still are. 'Monetenegro' gives us a pungent whiff of how we smell without deodorant, look without makeup, feel without politically correct "civilized" Thought Police cues, touch with unwashed hands, & taste blood-rare meat without first checking to be sure our side of veggies is certified to be "organic", washed, or attractively presented. Nobody calls for a cop in Montenegro, watches Oprah, or cares less what Dr. Phil advises; nobody hails a waiter without ducking for the dagger that will come hurtling his way; & nobody bats an eyelash without understanding up front that it means, "Come hither: Now!" In 'Montenegro' nobody trifles with food & wine & sex & death because they're the stuff of everyday life - life on the edge, life in the Now, into which Marliyn Jordan, body & soul, hurls herself.
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