A student and a woodcutter living in the wood since a year and a half, lacking a woman, kidnapped a nurse working in the near village. Well, she didn't dislike it. In the mean time, the ...
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A student and a woodcutter living in the wood since a year and a half, lacking a woman, kidnapped a nurse working in the near village. Well, she didn't dislike it. In the mean time, the whole village is involved in a man hunt or is it a 'dear' hunt!Written by
Jean-Marie Berthiaume <email@example.com>
To be. remembered only for its gorgeous photography and bodies....
I first saw this movie, Carle's fourth full- length feature, back in the spring of 1971 after much scandalous publicity. Quebec's film production was undergoing a true, accelerated revolution just like the rest of the world, in tune with the major social transformations that were sweeping the previously established racial, legal, entertainment and most importantly, sexual codes. I had already seen Carle's first and third movies, (La Vie Heureuse de Léopold Z  and Red , respectively) and had understood that Carle was already a master of camera work, a fascinating genius artist of composition and colors, and was largely recognized as such. Of course, a few daring movie makers had already crossed the strongly defended borders of catholic morals (with the domination of the Catholic Church crumbling down at an incredible speed) with movies that were flushing out the Hayes and similar production codes and showing real bodies in their full naked glory. Carle's film was thus following a trend launched with Denis Héroux's Valérie  - truly the very first, the one that broke the dam and got all hell going loose by showing the first full-fledged breasts in Canadian commercial cinema's history- and L'Initiation  and Claude Fournier's Deux Femmes en Or, a trend characterized by an almost rabelaisian take on life, with a quasi-obsessive emphasis on women's bodies, which had to be shown in a ridiculously gratuitous fashion and preferably without clothes (or the fewest possible). It was a phase that had to be traversed, an obligatory passage towards maturity.
In that respect, Carle did not distance himself from the all-boobs-go-loose and uncompromisingly epicurian movement that characterized these first steps in an as yet unexplored territory. However, unlike the previously mentioned pioneering excursions in sexploitation cinema, which had no artistic pretensions whatsoever, Carle's movies had already shown his considerable talent at depicting an atmosphere or a dramatic situation. La Vie Heureuse de Léopold Z is a charming, almost touching portrayal of the life and ordinary joys of ordinary people on a Xmas eve in downtown Montreal and was critically acclaimed with good reason. On the other hand, Red was meant to convey the problems of racial tensions between First Nations (including métis) and Caucasians near a reservation but was a mixed result for several reasons despite confirming Carle's inspiration at putting great images on film.
Unfortunately, Les Mâles suffers from an extremely simplistic scenario, and the truly beautiful natural settings (both ecological and anatomic) seen in the movie, it is not a real departure from Héroux's or Fournier' sexploitation flicks and fails at achieving anything akin to its purported theme, namely a satire of the pseudo-ecolotopia dream of the hippie culture. The film was supposed to depict the more or less conscious realization that the elementary nature of human sex drive makes basically monogamous animals of us and that any attempt at going against that fact inevitably leads to fierce struggles between competing males for a single female. In other words, the very idea behind hippie communes is flawed right from the start: deep down our primeval therapsid core, we simply don't want to share a sexual partner and the truth is that jealousy, not carelessness, is our natural attitude towards sex. That's self-avowed Carle's purpose, and it would reappear soon after with La Vraie Nature de Bernadette.
Be warned: the film is barely watchable due to truly insipid dialogs, an idiotic plot and abysmally poor acting. Its only redeeming value and the reason why I still keep a not entirely disastrous experience from watching the movie is its lush photography, especially the autumnal scenery with a naturalistic rendition of the full palette of colors one can see in Quebec's forests in October. Rarely has a film succeeded so well at capturing the beauty of Laurentian forests in the fall with such exquisite images. Of course, as a male myself who was barely 16 when I saw this on a big screen, I will never forget the equally naturalistic shapes of Andrée Pelletier and Catherine Mousseau, two very progressive actresses in these years. Pelletier's role as the sexual candy shared by the two would-be free love-defender hippie-like guys, one at a time, was especially a source of scandal around that movie. After all, her father Gérard Pelletier was the Secretary of State of Canada at the time, and this was his daughter's first movie, and the most of what was asked from her was to expose herself in outfits that were extremely inappropriate for chilly autumn days in Laurentian forests!
3/10 (sigh), because of the unforgettable colors - and curves.
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