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Roman Polanski again explores the depths of the human psyche in Bitter Moon,
a magnificent epic tale of obsessive lust and the oh-so-familiar winding
course of a passionate romance gone sour.
Bitter Moon centers around a familiar Polanski theme, that we are capable of being both torturer and victim, and usually both simultaneously. For anyone who doubts the validity of much of the past century of French intellectual thought, from the likes of Andre Gide, Foucault, and others, see this movie. For anyone who has been in a painful twisted relationship, see this movie. You will understand it. Some of it might be hard to stomach but that is the nature of truly great filmmaking.
A beautifully crafted movie, almost lyrical at times, Bitter moon is set in contemporary Paris but is told in a series of long complex flashbacks superbly narrated by Oscar (a terrific Peter Coyote) to Nigel (Hugh Grant as the usual British prat), both passengers on a cruise ship to India. Nigel and his wife Fiona, played by Kirsten Scott-Thomas, are on a holiday to enliven a stable but stale marriage. The couples become embroiled through the lurid tale of Oscar and Mimi's (Emmanuelle Seigner) love affair. Emmanuelle, Polanski's real-life wife, is superb and her incredible performance takes her from sumptuous beauty to complete wreck, a performance that deserves far more praise than was received. The lack of attention to her performance in this movie is no doubt due to the notoriety in the puritanical American press of her husband.
As a whole, Bitter Moon may not be Polanski's best film but some periods of the movie represent his very best work. Throughout, limits are pushed to the brink of tastelessness but Polanski masterfully pulls back just in time. The direction is complex and highly sophisticated and the movie arouses a range of emotions from dread to empathy to disgust to hilarity. The story line is far too complicated to synopsize appropriately in this review. Bitter moon is a great film, one of this reviewer's top 10 for the 1990s. Another must see! A word of caution, however, Bitter Moon is not a good date movie.
Every man should watch this film, it is a Polanski masterpiece. The
parts are wonderfully played and the script is menacingly accurate. Why
it didn't get greater exposure at the time or since baffles me,
particularly as two of the principle characters have since become
"famous" , Hugh Grant and Kristan Scott Thomas.
Most men will empathise with the morality or lack of in this confused relationship between an older man obsessed with his sexual object in the form of the stunning French actress, and her adoration for him. The haunting reality is that for so many the lack of depth in a relationship is frightening once the sexual desire diminishes. An awesome film 10 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is without doubt one of the most HUMAN films I have ever seen.
A totally gripping and tragic tale of Fools falling in Love... Only to fall out of it again... TRAGICALLY...
I'm a man, who is NOT afraid to admit that he cried at the end of this film... It was THAT moving... And I'm guessing that if you are one that feels... Or has felt... REAL emotion in your life... Then you'll be moved by this movie too... Perhaps to tears.
The performances are excellent... Perfectly portraying the complexities, contradictions and 'perversions'... If one can call it that... Of the Human heart and spirit.
I seriously felt ashamed to be a man!!! And for once, a movie has made me really think what it must have been like to be a woman who is hopelessly in love with a total bast**d!!! I've never seen so many broken, sad and confused characters in one film before... And the interplay between them is moving and captivating...
Be warned however... This is a serious movie about love, lust and obsession. It is VERY dark on the emotional level, and has NO happy endings... A bit like REAL life perhaps...? So, if you are not yet emotionally mature and have not yet had your heart broken... Or have yet to break any hearts yourself (which is where I'm coming from... Yes, I AM ashamed!!!)... Then I don't think this film is for you...
This film is SO far removed from your usual Hollywood bulls**t, in that it depicts REAL Human emotions on a non superficial level... So stay well clear if you're just looking for a movie to chill out to...
You won't chill out to this one... It sucks you in, bleeds you dry and shatters that age old myth that 'Love Conquers All'...
'Cos take it from me... As this film shows... Love is FAR from perfect...
It's NOT a great movie... But given its very moving emotional content and realism on the portrayal of Human Beings...
I give it 9 / 10.
when i first saw this movie in 1992 i found it shocking by its erotic
and burn-out love story. i noticed it was a good movie, but that was the
of the story.
now i bought it in dvd and saw it for the 2nd time. it's a masterpiece.
everything blends perfectly in this film: 1990's paris, the colours of the film (etalonage), the excellent vangelis's music score, the evolution of a love story, the roles played by the 2 couples...
emmanuelle seigner is great playing the role of a nymph and a sorcerer, peter coyote is magnificent playing the part of a regular guy who gets insane, hugh grant becomes a perfect boring middle-class british bourgeois and kristin scott thomas her discreet wife looking for action.
one of the best amour-fou stories, along with louis malle's "damage". as rui wrote before, a must see.
Bitter Moon once again sees the master of the macabre, Roman Polanski,
doing what he does best. With echoes of his earlier film 'Knife in the
Water', Bitter Moon is a story of lust, revenge, betrayal, dependency
and most of all; love, wrapped tightly around a coil of taboos and
sexual perversions. While not as good as some of Polanski's other
works, Bitter Moon still stands out as a highlight of his filmography
and is certainly a lot better than many people have reputed it to be.
The film follows two very different couples on a cruise ship; An
English couple, Nigel and Fiona and an American cripple, Oscar, who is
married to the French seductress Mimi. After meeting Mimi in the ship's
bar, Nigel becomes entranced by her and later meets her husband and
proceeds to learn his and wife's story...and it's not exactly pretty.
With this movie, Polanski has obliterated the barriers of decency, and
sometimes even makes you, the viewer, uncomfortable due to the goings
on. And that's the mark of someone that knows how to handle his
The acting in the movie really is first rate and there isn't a weak link there, especially not within the four leads. I'm no fan of Hugh Grant, in fact I hate the man, but he's exactly the right casting choice for this movie and it's almost a shame that he went on to make lots of rubbish movies after it. The two women, played by Kristin Scott Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner are well done in terms of the characters and the acting, but it is Peter Coyote who steals the show as the abominable Oscar. His character in this film is the sort that actors can really get their teeth into, and Coyote bites down hard in this movie. Polanski's direction is excellent as usual and the gritty style mixed with the great director's edgy camera-work help to create a claustrophobic environment that allows Polanski to perfectly portray his characters' mindset. The themes on display are impressive, and in spite of the fact that it oversteps the mark on several occasions, Polanski's film always feels real and the lesson in the love that the film teaches is duly noted. Bitter Moon is a film that will get under your skin and stay there and not only that but there's enough happening to ensure that this is always a fun watch. Recommended viewing.
The British Nigel (Hugh Grant) and his wife Fiona (Kristin Scott
Thomas) are celebrating the seventh anniversary of their marriage in a
cruise to Istanbul and Bombay. While in the trip, the American cripple
and frustrated writer Oscar (Peter Coyote) gets close to Nigel, and
invites him to listen to his unconventional love and hate story with
his French wife Mimi (Emmanuelle Seigner). Oscar tells how he met Mimi
in Paris and all their relationship, including details of their sexual
life, along the past years. Meanwhile, Nigel feels a great attraction
for the sexy and gorgeous Mimi, in a story with tragic consequences.
'Bitter Moon' has been released in Brazil on DVD this week, and yesterday I watched it for the fifth or sixth time, since it is one of my favorites movies ever. This story, about relationship, moral, hypocrisy, behavior, love and hate, fascinates me and shakes my emotions. I really believe that 'Bitter Moon', Peter Coyote and Emmanuelle Seigner have been not nominated to the Oscar because of the problems of Roman Polanski with the American Justice. Emmanuelle Seigner has her best role and performance in his career playing Mimi, an adorable French woman, very much in love with Oscar, who poisons and destroys her. Their love increases, reaches the top and crosses all the boundaries of a sexual relationship, including those 'accepted by a moralist and hypocrite society' (represented by Nigel), questioning how long a love can last, making Oscar bored of Mimi. The problem is that their relationship was supported by sex only, without friendship and respect, basic parameters for a long-term everyday life of a married couple. Hugh Grant is perfect in the role of a typical British man and symbol of a hypocrite society. And Kristin Scott Thomas has a minor, but very important part in the plot, playing a sexually repressed woman due to the behavior of her husband, who released the chains of her repression. The wonderful music of Vangelis and a soundtrack of nice songs, which includes a Brazilian pop song, conclude this masterpiece. My vote is ten.
Title (Brazil): 'Lua de Fel' ('Bitter Moon')
This film is utterly compelling - it will have you glued to the screen. It's about 2 hours and 15 minutes long, yet it never loses its grip. Although there are a few "funny" moments, you can never be sure whether they were intentional or not. The pacing is slow but wonderfully methodical. But what really makes this picture delightful is the level of the acting of the male stars. While the female leads are a bit stiff (the film's major flaw), the cynical Coyote and, especially, the charmingly shy Grant (his performance here is underrated) provide two different ways for the viewer to enter the story and their interplay is offbeat and endlessly entertaining. This is methodical, first-rate filmmaking by Polanski.
I found this film extremely well done for several reasons I will
It debates some moral issues, how far is it acceptable for a society still full of consevative people, such as the one performed by Hugh Grant, to acept a relationship such as that of the main characters? It is totally at the border of normality (meaning normality not necessarily what's good but what's common). The film also touches strongly the theme of hipocrisie (probably wrong spelled, this word.) once more in the character of Hugh Grant who, despite showing all the time disgut and repugnace for the story he is being told, is always secretly desiring and wanting something equivalent to happen to him (this hipocratic attitude may be the result of growing up in a world and a society where this kind of sexual liberties and practices are repressed and in here once more we are taken to atrong moral issues which take us to rethink the whole thing...).
Apart from this questions this film makes me also think about the relationships between men and women... Is there an everlasting love? or at least an everlasting relationship?... Suddendly I recalled Schopenhauer who claimed that no man could be happy with only one woman... maybe this film is showing that he was right... the pace of the relationship between Mimi and the writer was so high that they just emptied all there possibilities very soon, but if we put that at the scale of a normal marriage, aren't all the possibilities also tried at the end of 10 20 or 30 years? Can a marriage last happy for both till "death tears them apart" ?...
Besides this few topics of discussion (to which I could add some more if I just remembered them right now) I found this film very well directed with some beautiful scenes... also some strongs scenes that stay with us... Excelent performances for the three leading roles... Kristin Scott Thomas is also good in here but not so as in other films also because her somewhat small part in this one didn't allow her to show more than she did. This film proves once more Roman Polansky as one of the greatest directors of our times, since he shows he is totally in control of every detail of direction (I enjoyed the increase of the speed together with the increase of intensity of the relationship among the couple). Good dialogues but specially excelent speeches of the writer whenever he becomes the narrator which is often... Also an excelent note for the soundtrack by Vangelis and other well known songs which appear along. A must see.
The film begins with the camera focused on the sea and the waves, and the music with the piano playing to good effect, then an increasingly enlarging zooming shot of a porthole. Then to the cruise liner where the four main characters are based. It is a story narrated and told by Oscar, played by Peter Coyote, who is wheelchair-bound, to Nigel, played by Hugh Grant, a man he meets on the cruise. Nigel is intrigued by an entwining and serpentine tale Oscar tells him, and so are we, and even though it starts to sound incredulous, he has to return to Oscar's quarters to hear more. The tale is so engrossing because it concerns Oscar's beautiful, sultry and seductive wife, Mimi, played mesmerisingly by Emmanuelle Seigner. Oscar is entranced at first with her and delves into all kinds of sexual games, then his passion for her begins to subside and he rejects her and leaves her alone on a plane. All the while Nigel's wife (Kristin Scott-Thomas) is becoming disillusioned with Nigel's fascination with Mimi and Oscar. I do not want to unveil anymore, just to implore you to watch this film and let it mesmerise you, like it did me. I felt as though I had to keep watching and somehow I did not want to leave and let go of it until the end.
Extremely well made, extremely well acted, extremely intense
and disturbing, and extremely conscious of areas of the
sexual psyche that I'd never seen so honestly explored in
movie. According to Polanski, it is not love and hate
are opposite, but love and indifference. Obsessive sex
gives way, at least between the two lovers of Bitter Moon,
to a hatred as savage as cold-blooded murder or all-out war.
These extremities of love and hate work themselves out in a game of power and manipulation, and it remains the only vehicle by which these two can merge with one another so as to lose both their independence and the rest of their inhibitions and illusions. In the end, they become so bound up in their mutual need that the sex itself is no longer central. They might as well be prisoners lashed forever to the same stake, learning actually to enjoy the various torments that the other is able to inflict. Freud thought similarly that all sexual love was ultimately a form of masochism--identification with a partner whom one has caused to suffer. These questions are essential as long as the blood continues to throb in us; and, whether or not we find Polanski's story credible (I do), any thinking person would recognize it as a serious attempt to define who we humans are, both as rutting mammals and as something more.
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