|Index||3 reviews in total|
Even if this film lacks charm in its setting (a too bright Caribbean resort at rich people's vacation houses) and although the supporting actors who serve as Jeanne Moreau's entourage lack talent (Serrault excepted), and despite a totally predictable plot (aging reprobates squeezing the last drop of eroticism out of life), those fascinated with Jeanne Moreau will not be disappointed. The title of the film "The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea" portrays the aged Jeanne Moreau and, her decrepit sidekick, Serrault, winding down their last days insulting each other for losing their sexual powers, while comparing notes on their younger studs. The ultimate message of the film is that Jeanne Moreau has de facto a timelessly interesting face. She shows that she has neither lost her ultimate photographability nor her indefatigable sultriness.
I was repulsed by this film. I couldn't understand why Jeanne Moreau,
who didn't age gracefully by any stretch of the imagination (or the
plastic surgeon's art), would expose her ugliness - both physical and
moral - in this vehicle about an ageing female crook without any
redeeming qualities falling in love with a younger man and pushing her
equally decrepit ex-lover to suicide in the process.
Thanks to Ms. Moreau, her character is seen as vulgar, sly, coarse, selfish, calculating, heartless and sexually decadent.
Then, I read the novel by San Antonio and everything became clear. "La Vieille qui marchait dans la mer" is a masterpiece of the French language, which is surprising coming from an author who has specialized for decades in the kind of literature made popular by Simenon and Mickey Spillane. It is one of the definitive French works of fiction explaining the nature of physical attraction. It is also surprising that such a macho writer would take the trouble to delve - with such eloquence - into the meanders of a woman's soul.
In the novel, the old woman's intentions and her love for her young protégé are clearly understood through her many frank dialogues with God. The novel's character benefits from not being "seen" (except in descriptions) so that we can judge her soul and not her body. Unfortunately, the spectacle of Ms. Moreau's spectacular decrepitude - playing an 85 year arthritic old woman at age 63 - is enough the prejudice anyone against the personage she is supposed to interpret and the whole thing comes off as a freak show in very bad taste - "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" meets "The Grifters".
Still, one has to admit that it took quite a bit of courage - or recklessness - on Moreau's part to expose oneself in that way for all the world to see. And the film does take an added resonance when one has read the novel. It would have taken more imagination and a better director to actually transpose the novel's many interiorized levels of meaning and fleeting glimpses of poetry to the screen. As it is, the movie is only the exact physical equivalent of the book's unflinching descriptions, locales and storyline. It's the same difference that separates Mary Shelley's original "Frankenstein" novel (romantic, introspective, reflective and philosophical) from all its adaptations (outright horror films).
This culturally embarrassing vehicle for ubiquitous French film star Moreau (JULES & JIM, GOING PLACES) is a cheap, unfunny, unappealing, unconvincing yarn. While in Guadeloupe, an old seductress and con artist, Lady M. (played by Moreau), enlists the aid of the young beach bum Lambert (Thuiller) to help her with some blackmail and theft. Her fellow grifter and long-time lover Pompilius (Serrault) objects, and he and the Lady hurl colorful insults at one another. Meanwhile, the audience falls asleep. Serrault, who is most well-known to American audiences as the feminine half of the gay couple in the original LA CAGE AUX FOLLES elicits a couple of chuckles, but his presence barely graces a poorly conceived and executed film. It should have been called LA VIEILLE QUI MARCHAIT DANS LA MERDE.
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