Last Tango in Paris (1972) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
213 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Controversial perhaps, but also touching and beautiful psychodrama/study of a broken, tortured man
TheLittleSongbird23 February 2011
My favourite Bertolucci film along with The Last Emperor, Last Tango in Paris is something truly remarkable. It is controversial yes in how sex was displayed on screen. But it is also beautiful and touching not just as a psychodrama but also a study of a broken and tortured man. Instead of erotic, to me it came across as more existential, and I had nothing against that, in fact I wouldn't have minded whether it was erotic or existential or neither.

Last Tango is beautifully shot, with artful cinematography, interesting lighting and stunning production values. Gato Barbieri's jazz score is marvellous and creates a suitably delirious atmosphere. The story is a beautifully written and emotional one, the script is of exceptional quality and Bertolucci's direction is of high calibre. The acting from the two leads is superb. It is a real shame Maria Schneider died as young as she died, she showed great promise, and here she was sexy and touching and she looked stunning too. For me, the best asset of Last Tango in Paris was the performance of Marlon Brando. He is both wonderful and devastating in the lead and shows quite a lot of range in this film, one minute he is ferocious and vulgar, next he is tender and full of pathos.

All in all, wonderful film and worth seeing for Brando's performance especially, amongst other things. 10/10 Bethany Cox
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Marlon's Last Hurrah
bkoganbing12 April 2008
The Last Tango In Paris did not reach American shores until two years after it was shot in France. So for two years the American public was spared Marlon Brando's dip into porn.

I have to say I'm at an absolute loss why this film is so well regarded. Purportedly director Bernardo Bertolucci was dealing with middle aged loneliness without sex. But that subject was handled so much better from the woman's point of view in Tennessee Williams, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. And a middle aged Vivien Leigh looked better than a middle aged Brando.

Brando plays an American expatriate whose wife commits suicide rather suddenly or better I should say without any warning signs that he noted. My guess would be she was sick and tired of this self involved lug. So Marlon takes up with young Maris Schneider and makes it clear all he wants is good sex and completely at his whim.

This dopey girl actually goes for that even though she's engaged to young film maker Jean Pierre Leaud. I can tell you if I had a choice I'd have taken Leaud in a microsecond.

All this is an excuse for Marlon and Maria especially Maria to parade around in various states of undress and say a lot of naughty words in two languages. Why this film got all the acclaim it did, I cannot fathom.

Some might consider it art, I consider it pretentious.
9 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
No Matter How Many Movies I See, This Here Still Features the Greatest Performance
Michael_Elliott20 August 2012
Last Tango in Paris (1972)

**** (out of 4)

Bernardo Bertolucci's landmark drama about an American widower (Marlon Brando) who enters a no-questions-asked sex affair with a young French woman (Maria Schneider). The first time I watched LAST TANGO IN Paris I must have been around the age of fourteen and at the time I thought it featured a great lead performance but nothing else. I revisited the film to watch Brando's brilliance and slowly but surely the film itself started to grow on me to the point where I see it as a masterpiece. I will say that I've watched an ungodly amount of movies in my life but I've never seen a greater performance that what Brando delivers here. The sheer brilliance and raw emotion that he brings to the screen is something I've never seen matched and that's saying quite a bit. It's hard to find the words strong enough to give the performance as much praise as it deserves but the power is just so unflinching that you can't help get caught up in the story of this troubled character. The now legendary scene by the casket still packs one of the rawest and most powerful punches of anything I've seen and watching Brando work here is just amazing no matter how many times I see it. Schneider also deserves a lot of credit for being able to act with him. She's clearly not in the same league but I think this actually helps the movie because it fits in with the youngness of her character and the fact that the character isn't in the same league as the man she finds herself involved with. The film contains a haunting score by Gato Barbieri and masterful cinematography from Vittorio Storaro and both of these really add to the bleak nature of the subject. LAST TANGO IN Paris isn't an "entertaining" movie because it's just so raw, dark and depressing. Still, with so many movies out there we need these type of films and this here ranks as one of the greatest of its kind.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Best with Brando as the animalistic brute
SnoopyStyle7 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Jeanne (Maria Schneider) is looking at renting a Paris apartment, when she gets surprised by Paul (Marlon Brando) lurking in the dark. They have uncontrollable sex without giving even their names. In fact, he refuses to allow names to be exchanged. She has a demanding filmmaker boyfriend who is constantly filming everything. Paul is a man suffering from the suicide of his wife. They find solace and escape with each other in this apartment.

This starts with so much shock and awe. Their first encounter is absolutely electric. Whenever Brando is that animalistic brute, the movie gets very fascinating. Whenever the movie slows down, it meanders at times. Director Bernardo Bertolucci has produced a long movie at around 130 minutes. It could easily be trimmed to keep the tension high. As for the ending, it's rather disappointing to have Jeanne shot Paul. It feels like a cop out. As for the sexual content, it was probably very shocking at the time, and may have broken down some taboos. The sexual content is equivalent to today's more risqué but no longer shocking.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It's About the Power of Angst
Hitchcoc4 April 2006
This is a train wreck movie. It's about forces moving all over the place with no commitment and no love. Is it lust or is it physical release. Where is Brando in all this. There is a Camus like existential element at work all the way through here. Brando's character is so full of anger and pain that he gets his release in a sexual encounter (or a series if you will), based on anonymity and violence. He can't love again. There is a gray color to everything. Brando uses that incredible face of his to express his hurt. Every ounce of energy that an actor can put into a role is left in this one. Like many great films, there are no pat answers as the credits come up. The slice of life we have seen is sickening to us and we feel a little unclean. The fatalistic essence of having nothing to lose is as loud as the screams we hear, echoing the European train engines. I think that this was the first film I saw where I thought I was looking at a portrait. Some friends talked me into going to it because they had heard about "those scenes." I soon realized that there was so much more to this film than the sexually explicitness. I saw it again several years later. It has not tamed down in that time.
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Watch it for Brando but not for much else
bob the moo28 March 2004
Looking for a flat to move into, Jeanne takes a look at a flat to find the mysterious Paul sitting in the corner. She learns that he has just lost his wife to suicide and tries to find out more about him. However, while she tries this, he wants to remain anonymous and the two of them being a tempestuous affair where he tries to get over his grief.

In my second Bertolucci film of the day (the first being Sheltering Sky), I was prepared for a pretty impenetratable film (if you pardon the rather crude pun - unintentional I swear!). In that regard I got what I expected but not to the extent I honestly expected. The film focuses on the sexually extreme relationship between Paul and Jeanne and, while it is never easy to fully understand, isn't delivered in so arty a way as it render it meaningless. The film is strongest when it focuses on Paul's grief and how he carries it around with him. Conversely it is never weaker than when it focuses on Jeanne.

Paul's character is complex but well drawn out - he has several massive scenes where he pours out his emotions and it makes for gripping viewing. However Jeanne's character and motivation is less clear - in fact to suggest that the film really does anything to cast light on her is doing it a favour. Really it appears that she exists to allow for the story to happen, the film certainly has little interest in her as a person, or at least significantly less than it has in Paul. This isn't a major problem as Paul's character is big enough to carry the film.

This is mainly due to a tremendous performance by Brando. Never an easy actor, he has poor moments here but they are overshadowed by the sheer emotional scale of his performance, particularly in several key scenes (by his wife's side being my favourite). Schneider gives a good performance despite the film's lack of real interest in her character. She does a lot of very difficult scenes and does them well; she suffered a breakdown later as a result of this film and maybe she was exploited a little bit, perhaps the emotional rollercoaster that the film takes her character on was something she experienced as well and understood as poorly as I did. I don't know, but, considering the weak character she is given here, she does very well as an actress.

As director, Bertolucci again does well in terms of visuals and style; but frustratingly he offers very little to those of us looking for help with the narrative. I owe more thanks to Brando than I do to Bertolucci in terms of how much I took from this film - I felt Brando did more to reach the audience than Bertolucci did in the construct of the film. In terms of the erotic content, I defy anyone to find this `sexy' even with sex scenes and nudity. The sex here is steeped in hurt, pain and confusion and, for all the controversy it caused, it is just another way for the grief and intense hurt to be shown. Certainly by today's standards it is very tame in regards `eroticism' but it is to the film's credit that the raw nerves of emotion it involves still have their power.

Despite this I still enjoyed this film, as brutal and difficult as some parts of it were. As a viewer, I mirrored the film's lack of care for Jeanne as she is very much secondary to the main thrust of Paul's grief. Paul's story carries the film and it is Brando's performance that carries Paul's story. Never an easy actor, his performance here easily rates with his best despite the rest of the film.
5 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Brando in a Very Odd Way
gavin694226 July 2017
A young Parisian woman meets a middle-aged American businessman (Marlon Brando) who demands their clandestine relationship be based only on sex.

Marlon Brando has some standout roles. Most notably, as Don Corleone in "The Godfather". Is this one of them? Well, it may be his most disturbing role, and that includes "Apocalypse Now" where he was an actual cannibal.

Now, I can totally understand the concept of a man wanting his mistress to be merely his mistress, no strings attached. That makes sense. But Brando's character in this film is not just a guy having a fling... he is possessive, violent and grossly lecherous. This is a terrifying character.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Maria Schneider, RIP
lee_eisenberg24 March 2011
I had never heard of Maria Schneider until she died of cancer last month, so I decided to watch her most famous movie. Bernardo Bertolucci's "Ultimo tango a Parigi" ("Last Tango in Paris" in English) has got to be one of the most intense movies ever made. How to describe it? Superficially about a stormy affair between a young French woman (Schneider) and a middle-aged American widower (Marlon Brando), it seems to me that the movie depicts a clash between 1960s idealism and 1970s cynicism. The affair has nothing to do with love: it's as if these individuals exist independently of everything, not even telling each other anything about themselves.

While the setting is Paris, this isn't the romantic city that so many movies have idealized. The French capital comes across as a bastion of bleakness. Marlon Brando himself looks pretty disheveled. Overall, there might be no truly sufficient way to describe the movie, except to say that I do recommend it. Also starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, Maria Michi, Catherine Allégret, Catherine Breillat, Massimo Girotti, Veronica Lazar and Darling Légitimus.
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Last Tango in Paris
jboothmillard13 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
From Oscar and Golden Globe nominated director Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist, 1900, The Last Emperor), I definitely remember seeing maybe a minute of two of a scene from this much mentioned film with the star of The Godfather, and I very much looked forward to seeing it. Basically middle-aged Paul (Oscar and BAFTA nominated Marlon Brando) is the American grief stricken, crazed widower who has spent aged roaming the streets of Paris since his wife recently committed suicide, until he sees young and engaged French girl Jeanne (Maria Schneider). She is looking for an apartment, and after finding it he manages to convince her to let him share it with her, and not long after beginning this agreement they begin a seedy but passionate affair, only without telling each other their names. The affair does create more tension in their personal lives, with Paul struggling more to come to terms with the death of his wife, and Jeane trying to prepare to marry her film director fiancé Tom (Jean-Pierre Léaud), who is making a documentary about her. In one instance of the affair Paul brutally rapes Jeanne anally, using only butter for lubrication, but instead of running away he stays where the crime happened, and he also makes arrangements for his wife's funeral. Eventually Paul has become dissatisfied with "possessing" Jeanne, but he continues to try and get any kind of passion from her, but she knows her marriage to her fiancé, dull though he is, means more to her, and shockingly Jeanne shoots Paul dead in the end. Also starring Massimo Girotti as Marcel, Maria Michi as Rosa's Mother, Giovanna Galletti as Prostitute, Catherine Allégret as Catherine and Darling Légitimus as Concierge. Brando gives a fantastic performance as the man disturbed by the tragedy in his life, but also by his aggressive passion towards the young girl living with him, Schneider also gives a good performance as his innocent flatmate seeking some kind of excitement, together their scenes both have sexual chemistry and of course create the controversy that surrounded its release in cinemas, it is certainly a drama to be seen. It was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama. Very good!
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Call It What It Is
ccthemovieman-116 May 2006
This controversial film probably still shocks most people today. That's how crude the dialog is in here, and that's hard to do considering what has been heard on film the past 30-plus years.

Some of the things that Marlon Brando says to Maria Schneider are downright disgusting. The profanity here goes way beyond acceptability, and I'm used to hearing about anything and am offended by only a couple of words. But this is just "pushing the envelope" gratuitously and nothing else.

Story-wise, this is a total bore. Nothing happens for over two hours! The only thing that kept me watching was Schneider's looks and Bernardo Betolucci's cinematography. However, there's just so much sleaze one can take.

Anyone who gives this movie a favorable review has to be morally bankrupt. Only a Liberal would try to intellectualize and rationalize out-and-out soft porn.
19 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"I might be able to comprehend the universe...but I'll never discover the truth about you."
moonspinner5518 March 2017
Young Parisian woman, cast by her innocuous fiancé in a film he's making about love, has an intermittent clandestine affair with a 45-year-old American widower whom she met when they both went to check out an empty apartment; he initiates the sexual relationship with her on the basis they keep it anonymous--but truths are eventually revealed. Although prurient viewers have since picked up on the film's more sensational aspects, "Tango" is a serious movie about sex and subservience that features one of Marlon Brando's finest performances. Angry and raw and belligerent, Brando's Paul is grieving the suicide of his wife while lashing out at the world. His sexual and psychological dominance over life-loving Maria Schneider can be interpreted in many different ways and, indeed, the picture has been dissected and debated by moviegoers since its debut (director Bernardo Bertolucci has even stirred up some recent controversy by saying he may have violated 19-year-old Schneider's trust while filming). Not an easy picture to like--but almost impossible to dismiss--the film has been overrated by some yet is occasionally powerful and sensual, and beautifully photographed in hazy afternoon colors by Vittorio Storaro. **1/2 from ****
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A story of a sad old man, or of a lolita?
TxMike1 April 2006
"Last Tango" has to be one of the most reviewed and analyzed movies. Even the critic Ebert has written three separate reviews, in 1972, 1995, and 2004. No comments of mine could add or subtract from the volumes already written about it. So these "user comments" will be just that -- comments of my reaction to it, viewed presently on the recently released uncut DVD version.

The basics in plot. Paul (Marlon Brando) is an American in Paris, having married a French wife who, with her family, ran a small, seedy hotel often patronized in 30 minute increments by ladies of the street and their clients. But he and his wife of 5 years were not close, and she has just died, leaving him searching for the meaning of his life. He is 45 in the script, but 47 during filming.

Jeanne (pretty, young, and well-developed Maria Schneider) is a child still living at home, being courted by Tom, a young film-maker, who is making overtures of marrying her in a week or two. Seemingly without direction in her life, almost anything will be acceptable. She is 20 in the script, but Schneider was most likely still 19 during filming, and she looks like a child. That she and Paul would get into any kind of relationship is a lolita attraction for the older man.

The movie can be looked at from two different perspectives. Paul's, which is anger and loss for an unfaithful but dead wife, and now he must choose to build a new life in Paris, or return to America where he probably has nothing waiting for him. So he looks for an apartment, and happens to meet this young girl as an interim distraction. Or Jeanne's point of view, which is a young girl, looking for an apartment so she can move away from home, faced with a decision regarding Tom's proposal, and finding this older man as an interim distraction.

I understand all that has written about "Last Tango". I understand the analyses and the reasons so many rate it as a great movie of all time. I simply do not agree. To me it is a story of a sad, dirty, old man who is demonstrating an abusive personality. We see them every day in real life, usually on the evening news as they are escorted to jail, in handcuffs. To devote a whole movie to his situation is not particularly insightful nor entertaining. My therapy for him would be a swift slap in the face and tell him, "Get a grip, quit feeling sorry for yourself, act like a generous person instead of like a spoiled old man." While Brando's acting is always praised, I suspect he wasn't acting at all.

MAJOR SPOILERS - quit reading if you have not seen the movie. Even though Paul forces sex onto Jeanne, we never get the impression that she objects. She returns to the shabby apartment over and over for their meetings, and she tolerates his abuse. Even though he at first insists that they know nothing of each other, not even names, gradually they do find out things. Sadly, Paul has actually begun to fall in love (or what he thinks is love) with Jeanne and we sense that he wants a life with her. There is a last tango scene, where Paul and Jeanne are drunk and attend a tango competition, but I suspect the name of the movie comes more from the impression that a tango represents an impersonal dance, with the partners looking away from each other, and that was Paul and Jeanne's relationship. The movie ends when Paul follows Jeanne to her mother's home, Paul will not leave her alone, and there in a close embrace Jeanne shoots Paul with a handgun she had just pulled from a drawer. As he dies on the patio, she over and over recites her version for the police, she didn't know him, he followed her, he tried to rape her, she had to shoot him.
4 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mysterious, provocative, masterful
Quinoa198424 April 2001
Bernardo Bertolucci's best film Last Tango in Paris is a film that is possibly the only X rated art film, unless you count out Midnight Cowboy and Clockwork Orange (I wouldn't). It is a movie where even if you might know some of the cliches invented in the film (get the butter, for example), it is still thought provoking.

Marlon Brando, who is undoubtedly an excellent actor, shows off his stuff here and is so good it can be argued if he deserved the Oscar for the Godfather or this because both performances are extraordinary. He plays a man who's wife had just commited suicide and decides to have a sexual binging in Paris with a young girl. The encounters aren't a prostitutional type of thing, but rather a weird escape for the two of them from they're lives (which is what they need).

Some might say the movie has aged with time and that the film's sexuality might have depleted. Unless you are watching this film along side Black Throat, this film will seem like Porn (even if it's a tad mild), for both generations. But if you can take it (the butter scene, for example, is actually more disturbing than sexually exciting), it makes the movie all the more better. Featuring classic scenes, with a classic actor, a classic director, and a classic motion picture. A++
5 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Last Tango in Paris is partly pretentiously dull for me
tavm17 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
After so many years of reading or hearing about this X-rated non-porn movie starring Marlon Brando and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, I finally rented Last Tango in Paris thinking I'd watch a great masterpiece of a combination of two genius talents. What I saw was a bit pretentious bordering on dull art-house movie that seemed to grow repetitious after a while with Maria Schneider's character alternately rejecting and then accepting Brando's often violent and forceful sexual advances. While there were a few funny scenes that involved wordplay like the "grunts instead of names" scene between the leads or the marriage proposal between Schneider and her fiancé director Tom, they weren't enough to make Brando's constant using of certain words any less irritating as the picture went on. After the famous butter scene that I watched with clenched teeth, I thought the worst was over. Then Paul makes Jeanne cut a couple of her nails so she can stab her fingers in his butt! It's at this point that I really wished she had left him once and for all. There were some other things I liked such as the jazzy score, Paul's conversation with the man who had an affair with his late wife, and the tango dance of various couples even when Paul basically mooned everyone there. Maybe if I were to see this again I'd give this one a bigger rating. For now I'm giving a mixed review of 5.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A masterpiece that you might not want to watch again
ComedyFan201025 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is not necessarily a movie that is a joy to watch or is very entertaining and yet it is a masterpiece. How so? because it is all about showing discomfort and abuse of the characters and while it is not pleasant to watch, it is hard to look away and it is made perfectly.

The story is about a man going through emotionally painful time and a young woman having trouble with her fiancé. They meet and start an anonymous affair, but then feelings start to arise.

Back in the 70's the movie started a lot of controversy. And while sexual scenes are not as uncommon as they used to be, the movie is not outdated in this sense. The sex is not about being erotic. It is meant to cause the viewer some discomfort and it still does, just like the famous butter scene that is pretty much a rape.

The movie is mainly about Brando's character Paul. We see his inner struggle and the more is revealed about him the more we see him. He is hurt by his previous relationship and struggles with the fact that his wife killed herself and he never really knew her. He hides from those feelings in the anonymous affair. But his wish for happiness dives him into believing Jeanne actually has feelings for him and there is a future. Unfortunately her "love" seems to be just a fascination with his dominant masculinity and mystery. Once he opens himself all of it starts to vanish including her feelings and she refuses him as well as kills him.

No here is the one thing which makes me take off 2 points for the movie, otherwise I would give it perfect. While it is understandable that Jeanne mistook the fascination by anonymity for love and her feelings end once she gets to know him, we never see a turning point. It seems a bit too much that she even runs away from him. There is something missing there.

Acting is great. Marlon Brando is at his best, we feel his struggle and the way he brings his monologues are great. Marie Schneider is perfect for the role. She has the innocence of that young woman, new to love, not yet able to understand what Paul goes through and also very confused with her own feelings. Also liked Maria Michi as Rose's mother. Really felt for her character in the few scenes that she appeared.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
LAST TANGO is a masterpiece!
michaelRokeefe3 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Written and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, LAST TANGO is a twisted love story with passionate forceful sex and sadomasochism. I first saw this movie at an X rated theater in Tulsa, where I also watched A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Marlon Brando is excellent as a troubled American in Paris that enters a sordid relationship with a young Parisian woman(Maria Schneider)less than half his age. He is trying to overcome his wife's horrific suicide. This short, intense and extremely steamy clandestine affair is based on sex and sex alone; with a rule of not mentioning names or past history. The insults, humiliation and taunting finally brings the young woman to a turning point; at a time when she momentarily thought she was actually in love with the decrepit and pathetic man, who raped and violated her. She finally puts a definite end to the relationship with excusable afterthought.

Brando turns in one of his finest and powerful performances. Schneider is absolutely mesmerizing. Many kudos to Bertolucci for his straight forward braveness knowing the raw and sordid sex scenes would be highly controversial.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Marlon's Last Great Film In A Leading Role
sunwarrior1317 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Last Tango In Paris could probably be considered as Marlon Brando's last great film in a leading role in his storied acting career before he just started accepting supporting roles in his subsequent movies.In Bernardo Bertolucci's art-house classic,Marlon delivers one of his best performances that would be comparable to that of Vito Corleone in The Godfather as a plays Paul,a depressed American who came to Paris after his estranged wife committed suicide.He meets a young French woman named Jeanne,portrayed by Maria Schneider and they both enter into a sadomasochistic and carnal sexual relationship with her.They neither share personal information with each other.But things just get messy and complicated as both want to get more from their relationship which results in a peculiar conclusion in the end.

This was definitely a controversial film when it was first released theatrically as it contains sex scenes and emotional portrayal that were considered raw and graphic.But nevertheless,it contains cinematic poetry that one would still appreciate at present while this review is being written.As I have said previously,Marlon provides a terrific performance as a sexually passionate and pained individual.As a whole,the movie also contains great ideas about sex and eroticism.
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Empty Abstraction
tedg26 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Seeing this after 30 years was like finding a formerly dear friend who you now discover is unbearably dull.

We thought this film was revolutionary when it appeared, the best of a movement that would change film forever.

It is a film about filmmaking, about reducing the equation of the encounter between filmmaker and viewer to an abstraction of anonymous passion. It is in retrospect a simple idea, potentially powerful. What makes this project stand out among its siblings was the collaboration with Brando.

Marlon was the first to explore extending his being from merely representing a character. He built the notion of simultaneously working the narrative and commenting on the process in an abstract manner. But as an explorer, he ran out of challenges and was ripe for a new way of supporting abstraction. Here he worked with Bertolucci to make his experiment far richer.

The idea is that pure spontaneous connection creates a temporal world. The payoff is that this ultimate artificiality is the purest reality. It would be a slight observation with Bertolucci's contribution alone, in fact all his other films ARE slight in this way. But it is also supported by Brando's weaving of a secondary presence, embodying instant, non-premeditated discovery. His primary character competes with the effete boyfriend filmmaker -- the secondary one with Bertolucci himself.

It is pretty marvelous. The only problem is that the basic idea is either sophomorically obvious, or he has supported it so effectively that we think we knew it all along -- I suspect the former. This sort of frangible, multidimensional connection is a tool, a means to a creative end, not something that can sustain a creation on its own. By itself, it is an empty expression.

Perhaps we needed such empty films to enter the notion into the vocabulary for others to use in actually changing our lives. Too bad these don't have Brando, but at least we have those who have learned from him: Penn, Moore, Blancett, even Depp.
8 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Knocking the Briefs Off "Brief Encounter"
zardoz-1313 March 2005
"Last Tango In Paris" stirred up a firestorm of controversy when United Artists released it back in 1972. Over thirty eventful years have passed since it weathered a battle over its alleged obscenity, but Bernardo Bertolucci's acclaimed erotic classic hasn't aged well at all. In fact, "Last Tango" should have been renamed "Last Tedium In Pretentiousness." Okay, ace lenser Vittorio Storaro deserves top marks for his moody, evocative photography, but the rest of this muddled nonsense is just that: NONSENSE! Perhaps we can forgive Bernardo for this dreary, depressing, drivel. Overrated in every department aside from its cinematography, "Last Tango" doesn't even seem erotic now, even if it ever were. I saw this crap when it came out and it seemed like an exercise in random hopelessness. Brando is a great actor, but not here as a person for whom we have not the least sympathy much less understanding. By the time that we meet him we learn that his wife committed suicide in the tub and splashed blood everywhere. So all we know is that he is grief-stricken beyond the point of no return. The idea of making a movie about two lonely people who connect for sex at a neutral locale and deny themselves the faintest pleasure in terms of knowing who they are screwing looks like something Bernardo came up with while sitting in a 42nd Street grindhouse. I wouldn't even describe this epic as obscene. Sure, sexy Maria Schneider flaunts full frontage nudity, but the sex scenes are so tame that you'll want to yawn and roll over. They rank right down there with the sex scenes between Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in the remake of "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Anybody who calls "Last Tango" obscene hasn't been to a movie in thirty years. Even when I originally watched it in obscure movie theater in Starkville, Mississippi near MSU, I detested the obligatory scenes involving her boyfriend Tom (Jean-Pierre Leaud) as the filmmaker who follows Schneider as the focus for a documentary that he is producing. They say that the original cut of "Last Tango" ran 4 hours and they chopped half of that out, so why didn't they axe this useless subplot? The Schneider character is just as one-dimensional as the Brando character, except that we know that she can shoot her father's pistol with accuracy. Indeed, Bernardo does everything that he can to make Paris look like a hovel. Shrinks will probably love this movie as well as pretentious art critics who love to fawn over films that make no sense and in making no sense justify senselessness. Oh, yes, the Gato Barbieri sax solos ooze atmosphere in what boils down to ramped up sexual variation on "Brief Encounter." Happily, Bernardo made better movies before "Last Tango," and he made better movies after "Last Tango."
28 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Lousy Tango
evanston_dad14 April 2006
A listless, pretentious film that meanders on for way too long and is redeemed only by Marlon Brando's tremendous lead performance, perhaps the best he's ever given on screen.

Maria Schneider is a blank slate at best, both the actress and the character she plays. Her animal ruttings with Brando are supposed to be shocking and titillating, or at least were meant to shock and titillate a 1972 audience, but they seem now like desperate attempts to give the audience something that will engage its collective interest. It really is astounding that such a pointless movie could have such a wonderful performance in it, and for Brando alone this film is worth watching. But as for the rest, consider yourself warned.

Movies like "Last Tango in Paris" are the reason why so many people hate international cinema.

Grade: D
10 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
My favorite film.
zetes18 July 1999
This is my single favorite film. There has never been a film that has given me more to think about that this one.

But first let me clear one thing up: this was NEVER MEANT TO BE A LOVE STORY BETWEEN TWO GAY MEN EVER. I really despise when people say that. Why should people believe what someone said in the liner notes for the soundtrack? According to the British Film Institute Classics series, Bertolucci thought of the idea after he had a strong desire to make love to an anonymous woman in a room he had never been in before. That rumor arose when Ingmar Bergman said that the film only would work if Paul and Jean were both men. But why? Paul walks the line between two separate attitdes towards Jean: at some points he wants to torture her. he wants to punish her and all women. On the more positive side, he wants to teach her about life. Both of these attitudes stem from his wife's betrayals and lies. He wants to punish and get revenge for what Rose did to him, but he also wants to prevent Jean from becoming like her. Both of these attitudes are extremely egotistical (Jean does call him an egoist). How would those attitudes even apply if Paul were sleeping with a man? It would be a completely different film. It may have been good also, but it would not work with the plot and themes of the film.

Now that that's over with, I would like to praise brando, my god, for a while. This is his ultimate performance. He improvised a lot of his scenes. The scene where he talks to Rose's dead body is possibly the best scene in all of film. He actually felt the emotions he portrayed. He seemed to feel them more intensely than a person could possibly feel.

I would also like to praise Maria Schneider and Jean-Pierre Leaud. Many people have complained that Maria Schneider is just standing there while Brando acts circles around her. This isn't true. They also complain that her character has no character. She's just meant to be naked and beautiful. The only reason people say this is that Jean hides her emotions a lot. Where Paul is looking at their relationship from a grave viewpoint, Jean sees it,initially, at least, as an adventure. She entirely accepts Paul's advances when they first meet. She comes back for more. She's sexually independent (she proves this by masturbating when he pays no attention to her), where Paul is wrapped up in the confusion he feels after his wife's suicide. I love the little games she plays with Tom, her fiancee. "La marriage pop" is one of my favorite scenes. Leaud's character is really funny. It's a joke targeting the cineasts who gave him his career, Truffaut and Godard. His love for film is humorous, and gives us the excellent contrast between great fimmakers like Bertolucci and adequate ones like Godard.

Art isn't about fun. It is more wonderful when it is emotionally painful, as the Bacon paintings introducing the film exhibit spectacularly. I absolutely love dancing with Paul and Jean. Sometimes, when I watch it, I'll rewind the Last Tango scene and watch it four or five times. The dialogue is among the best ever written. And I am probably the only person who thinks the ending is perfect. I will not reveal it, but it simply illustrates that Jean was not willing to learn adulthood. Childhood was much more fitting. Kind of reminds me of most every other movie.
11 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Maria Schneider does well to keep up in English, French and broken English
christopher-underwood8 February 2019
The film stunned me when I saw it in the cinema some 45 years ago and I'm not sure I have braved it since unless I watched some murky video. So much has happened in cinema since that first viewing that it is no longer quite so shocking but still packs a punch. Beautifully shot, there are lovely shots of Paris and the light upon the walls of the apartment but there is ugliness too and there is never a moment one can relax confident that all will be well. Brando is brilliant, if slightly awkward and Maria Schneider does well to keep up in English, French and broken English. As the two mismatched individuals merge together into some sort of passionate but loveless relationship we learn something of the background. Essentially, Brando is bereft following the suicide of his wife, right at the start and Schneider has a much more conventional, if barely believable one with an aspiring film maker. He is played by Jean-Pierre Leaud, he star of many New Wave films, particularly for Godard and Truffault and it would seem that Bertolucci is having a little fun here pitting the pretty boy of trendy 60s cinema against the old brawler Brando (I understand though that Leaud was so intimidated by the American giant that he could not work alongside him). I noticed this time that the soundtrack I have always loved seems to begin and finish rather abruptly at certain points of the film and it seems I may have found the reason. Apparently there is, or was, a four hour rough cut of the film and that it was this that Gato Barbieri studied in order to decide where the film required music. Seems reasonable, therefore, to suppose that when the film was cut by almost a half, the music may no longer slip so unobtrusively in and out.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A movie that Marlon Brando shouldn't proud for, !!!
elo-equipamentos21 June 2020
Recognized by thousand one of the most iconic actors of the last past century Marlon Brando suffered by this position, often rebuffed over his troublesome behavior on making movies, but Brando is greater than life as some allude, this movie is widely regard as true gem for touch in a neuralgic point, the sexual setting, made by Bertolucci about a disturbed widower mid-aged man almost unnoticed Paul who coincidently strumble over young girl called Jeanne (Maria Schneider) when both want rent the same apartment at Jules Verne street on Paris, then came up the unexpected, the sexual attraction that ends up reach on the act itself, both often meeting there, no names, no address, no past, just making sex, well this a summarized plot, nevertheless this movie displeased me with so boring scenes with Jeanne and his boyfriend (Léaud) with those ridiculous self-called home movie, also some unplugged scenes on a pristine surrealism, talking with a corpse lying in a bed surround by flowers, further having a useless chat with her wife's lover, things like that take so long that snatching away the early premise, however the movie reach at crucial point, the sexual relationship over two persons, the movie exposes many of them, quite normal usually, albeit the nasty scene when Paul asking Jeanne to cut her fingernails to introduce it straight on his hole, here l stay baffled by such disgusting behavior, whatever was his sexual orientation it scratch Brando's figure, built of hard work lifetime, a movie that Marlon Brando shouldn't proud for, the final is really crowning moment to close this unusual affair!!!


First watch: 2020 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7.5
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Last Tango In Paris is a milestone!
namashi_116 February 2009
In 1972 late Legend Marlon Brando & Maria had loads of sex in a film called 'Last Tango In Paris', I mean literally! '

Last Tango In Paris' has a wafer-thin plot, of two sexually confused people. One being an aged depressed man, the other begin a confused teen. To be honest, you won't understand nor enjoy this film until your 18+. The direction, as expected from the master storyteller, is first-rate.

Brando is outstanding, as always. Maria, in the most daring role from the 70's looks alluring & used. It's a powerhouse performance!

On the whole, 'Last Tango In Paris' rocks, don't miss this at any chance.
2 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Why dance solo when it takes two to tango?
StevePulaski13 March 2016
NOTE: This film was recommended to me by Joseph Garza Medina for "Steve Pulaski Sees It."

He is a middle-aged landlord from American in the middle of mourning the suicide of his wife. She is a young Parisian woman engaged and ready to begin her life with someone whom she deeply loves. She meets him when she's looking for an apartment to rent. An illicit, anonymous sexual relationship ensues.

Both agree not to give one another their names. Perhaps that way it is sexier. For a man to sleep with a woman and not even know her name, he might be looked at by his peers as something of a true player, whereas for a woman to admit she slept with a man whose name she doesn't know would leave a permanent brand on her character by society. This is one of the many reasons they don't tell anyone. That way the arousal of the actions remain and neither party is greatly harmed anymore than they will inevitably be.

He is played by Marlon Brando, one of the finest method actors who has ever lived, who is nothing shy of greatness here. Though he is largely quiet throughout the film, his leering presence as a character speaks volumes. His sexual force and energy does too, as he is the one to frequently initiate sex with her so that the two can release the tension, passion, and unmatched desires that have been clawing at their being for so long. She is played by Maria Schneider, another wonderful character actress who establishes herself here nicely, as well.

Both characters are just minimalist enough where intentions and such can be applied to them with ease. The writing team are careful to craft recognizable characters that also have a strong element of impressionism here that can help discern both characters' intentions. For one, we can assume that he's sudden promiscuity with sex is a way to mask the pain of his late wife. The burden of pain is so strong and uncompromising for him that the only way to at least temporarily remedy it is through carnal acts that would be meaningless if they weren't so full of passion. For her, one can assume her youth and her adventurousness are leading causes of this act of promiscuity, but perhaps it is also a need to feel in a world that doesn't always want you to display your emotions.

The film shows what happens when emotions and passion become so overpowering to the human mind that the only logical thing to do is to act instead of talk or define feelings. It elegantly showcases what comes of two people who completely collapse under the weight of their own impulsive desire to have sex and the problems it sets up for the future, when the clothes are back on and the weight of reality returns in an even more burdening manner. Even through cloudy aesthetics, intimate and erotic sex scenes, lavish costumes, and a wonderful, classical score that intertwines different jazz and full-blown orchestra, the characters and their underlying motivations remain the most interesting dance in the film. Why dance solo when it takes two to tango?

Starring: Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci.
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed