Beau-père (1981) Poster

(1981)

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9/10
Spot on, a twisted love story
gizmomogwai3 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Beau Pere is a film that works on a variety of levels- comedy, drama, tragedy, romance. It hits directly on target on a number of areas. Unsurprisingly, as a story about a 30-year-old man who has an affair with his 14-year-old stepdaughter- played by an underage actress with nude scenes- Beau Pere has been derided in North America as exploitation. It's not. There are no explicit sex scenes, and what nudity there is adds to the film.

Despite puritanical complaints, this is not a film promoting sex with minors. A deeper look of the film suggests the reverse. The stepfather Remi and stepdaughter Marion are both sick people. Remi is faced with blow after blow, a struggling career, threatened poverty, a failing marriage, death of a loved one, loss of a home. Marion gets an appalling shock when her mother is killed in a car crash. They try to pick up the pieces, but sexual confusion creeps in. The relationship may be sick, the love may be twisted, but these characters are always sympathetic. Remi knows the affair is wrong and in the end tries to move towards an adult woman, but the shift to normalcy may be gradual, and there is a sinister hint that history can repeat itself.

Both of the main characters are portrayed well (Dewaere has sad eyes) and the film doesn't have many flaws apart from the car accident scene in the beginning which is a little too goofy. The movie has a lot of similarities to Lolita, but enough differences to make it worthwhile. In fact, I prefer it to Kubrick's film (and I'm a Kubrick fan). Beau Pere worked with me as a sorrowful drama the first time I watched it, and on second viewing I could appreciate how funny it is as well. Encore!
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I love films such as this.
WilliamCKH5 November 2002
I really love films such as Beau Pere. When you read the description of the film (a man in his 30's has a love affair with his 14-yr. old stepdaughter after his wife dies), you kinda think that it's going to be a study about some middle-aged pervert engaging in immoral acts of both incest and pedophilia and that in the end the movie will be some kind of moral tale about the evils of such behavior.

But surprisingly, the film engages you, and paralyzes your initial judgements. It pulls you into its world and somehow you become fascinated by the 14-year old girl and slowly begin to sympathize with the stepfather. The performance of Ariel Besse is so beautiful. She has a matter-of-fact way of dealing with the world, in love, sex, relationships, etc.. She doesn't try to be cute (refreshing) and overly charming. As the movie progresses, she seems to have aged before your eyes, (though physically she remains 14). and suddenly, concepts of right and wrong become blurred. I've often read that in the artistic tradition of the French, the concept of morality does not deal specifically with what is right and wrong, persay.. but what is right and wrong as life is lived. Morality comes in the decisions you make as you live it, not as a pre-condition. It's hard to explain... but as the great french director Renoir once said......everyone has his reasons.

P.S. I wish Bertrand Blier would make more movies. The subjects in his movies such as this and others made over 20 years ago (Les Valseuses, Get out you Handkerchiefs, Too Beautiful for you, etc..) would shock people even by today's standards. But because he gives so much humanity to his characters, these taboo subjects can be seen in a different slant... and essentially isn't that what film, or art for that matter, is really all about.
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9/10
Haunting!
gilgirl33187 March 2006
I was 14 years old and traveling to Florida and we spent the night in a hotel. I was up late watching HBO when this movie came on. As I sat and watched it I was mesmerized by Patrick Deweare! The movie and his performance touched something very deep in me, I became an instant fan of his and the memory of that movie stayed with me for years. I purchased the movie as an adult. I think it was the deep sadness that emanated from him, just the sad looks he would convey without actually speaking. I love this movie as much today as I did at 14, which at that time I did not know that he had just died. With the advent of the Internet I was able to find out much more about this man who's performance haunted me and learned where that sadness came from.
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8/10
Who's Your (Step-)Daddy?
Coventry8 February 2008
Yes, I am aware of the fact the rather vulgar and tasteless subject line entirely misfits the overall tone of this film, but when else am I going to have the chance to use this clichéd saying in a review? "Stepfather" is a provocative and mildly controversial "Lolita"-themed drama, but with a healthy sense of humor and extremely likable characters. Britney Spears provided the best one-line plot description imaginable for this film: Not a Girl, Not yet a Woman. After the sudden and accidental death of her mother, beautiful 14-year-old Marion insists on staying with her manic depressed stepfather instead of returning to her natural father. The girl soon openly confesses Rémi she has romantic feelings for him and doesn't really make it a secret that she wants to sleep with him. Rémi tries very hard (honestly, he does) to resist the temptation, but what's a lonely man to do when a scantily clad young gal keeps throwing herself at him and continues to sneak into his bed at night? Most of the – admittedly overlong - film focuses on Rémi fighting, accepting and regretting his own feelings towards Marion, but still the film never really feels boring and there are plenty of neat details to keep you pleased. The narrative, for example, is ingenious as several characters (including Rémi) explain the story whilst facing the camera. He works as unsuccessful pianist in a restaurant and the camera often pans around him as he's narrating his own life with people dining in the background. It's also quite remarkable how the script never reverts to being gratuitous exploitation, even though all the themes hint towards that direction. A truly ravishing and often barely dressed minor literally offers herself at this potent, thirty-something guy, and yet there are no explicit sex sequences or gratuitous insinuations being made. Ariel Besse (16 at the time and a terrific actress) strips fully naked a couple of times, but all the sex & nudity sequences are elegantly presented and not the least bit offensive. Patrick Dewaere is great as well and it was quite a shock to discover he committed suicide shortly after the release of this film. According to several sources, including the IMDb, the actors struggled with depressions and mental torture for years and years. The only consolation he had was that his own mental condition gave an even deeper dimension to his character in "Stepfather". Recommended.
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10/10
Blier's Masterpiece
zachsaltz9 September 2005
"Beau-Père" is not a skin flick, though the cover of the DVD and VHS would make you think otherwise. Yes, it's about a very taboo topic, to say the least - the sexual relationship between a 40-ish piano player and his 14-year-old stepdaughter - but the great Bertrand Blier, who explored similar territory in "Get Out Your Handkerchiefs" eases the unease by doing the unthinkable and turning the movie into a screwball comedy.

Well, that's what we think, at first. Remi (played magnificently by Blier favorite Patrick Dewaere), not unlike Humbert in Nabokov's "Lolita" tells us of his tragic plight; after his wife dies tragically, he is left with his stepdaughter, Marion (Ariel Besse). Uncomfortable with the new rift in the household, Marion childishly assumes the "mother" role and takes on all motherly duties - including seducing her stepfather. Remi refuses, but there is danger lurking in Marion's pubescent body and puppy-dog eyes. Not realizing this danger, he eventually gives in.

Of course, giving into his stepdaughter is a mistake that plunges both Remi and Marion deeper and deeper into misery. Even Marion's real father suspects a mutual sexuality between them and, in one of the film's more heartbreaking moments, completely dissolves his obligation as a father and OKs the incestuous affair. Remi and Marion, then, are not so much connected by their sexual bond, but by the fact that they've both been abandoned by the people they love. There's no real question about where the affair is going, but the tragedy lies in who gets hurt the most. The final image of the movie may haunt me forever.

The movie is obviously not for all tastes, but it should be said that the sex is never gratuitous. In fact, it seems almost distracting when compared to what Blier really wants to get across - the divide between adolescence and adulthood and how seemingly frivolous sexual encounters can ruin lives forever. And, like "Hankerchiefs", the movie somehow provides some truly funny moments. "Beau-Père" is Bertrand Blier's masterpiece and a film that should be seen by all connaisseurs of intelligent, challenging cinema. 10/10
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7/10
Strong Affection
sol-14 April 2017
Separated from his stepdaughter, raised for eight years as his own, after the girl's mother dies in a car crash, a pianist begins to mistake his fatherly affection towards her for romantic love, which causes a problem since the girl feels the same way and is set on taking her mother's place in this controversial Bertrand Blier film. The movie is actually far less sleazy than it might sound from the outset; there is relatively little in the way of nudity and lovemaking with the film instead focused on the mental dynamics between the pair, neither quite sure how properly express their strong feelings for one another. Things seem to get even more interesting as the girl's birth father catches on to how intimate the pair have become since the mother's death, and yet the film's meandering second half does the material no justice. There is so much build-up and tension leading up to the pair taking things too far that the film has trouble refocusing afterwards. That said, the movie ends on a pitch perfect suggestive final note. The gliding cinematography courtesy of the legendary Sacha Vierny is also excellent throughout with mirrored surfaces nicely favoured for a film about two individuals forced to reflect upon themselves. Blier additionally uses an interesting technique of having a handful of characters talk to the camera to provide narration, though the inconsistency of the narration is a tad jarring.
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10/10
The eternal substitute
semiotechlab-658-9544422 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I don't think that "Beau Pere" (1981) by Bertrand Blier is so much about what Marion says: "I am a woman. A woman of 14 years (...). Admittedly, my breasts are small, but they do react when touched". One should not let oneself cheat about how much this is a movie about the definition or role of morality in French society, either. The story is close to surrealism, and that form of surrealism which discloses a strong humorist or almost clown's function, as, e.g., in Concrete Poetry. Therefore, I see in the center of this movie rather the poor Stepfather, Rémy, whose eternal faith it seems to be to never overcome his status as a stepfather. Not only has he a stepdaughter with his wife, he subsequently becomes the lover of his stepdaughter. In one scene, even his status of stepfather is questioned when the school-psychologist asks the girls father and stepfather who are both present: So you both are fathers of the girl? While her real father answers by yes, Rémy says: I am rather her mother. Marion wishes children from Rémy for the future telling him explicitly that he should transcend one day his role of stepfather. But before he gets there, he jumps off their relationship in order to join Charlotte, a single mother of a little daughter (whose stepfather he soon will become, since Charlotte says to him: Tu Vas Guérir (you will be healed)). At that point at the end of the movie, it can be no doubt that Rémy will never become a real father but always remain in the substitutive function: Not a father, but a stepfather, not the original lover, but a step-lover, not with the mother of his child, but with the mother of his stepchild.
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8/10
When is a girl a woman?
=G=2 April 2004
When a woman is killed in a car wreck, she leaves behind a husband and a daughter by an exhusband who become the center of gravity of the film. As the step father and beautiful 14 year old nymphet share their grief under the same roof, the girl reveals an uncommon maturity as she insinuates herself into the step father's life by taking on her mother's responsibilities and demanding her place in his bed. What follows is an unemotional, matter of fact, tastefully presented tale of two people whose familial love morphs into something more as they grapple with all the issues which come with their extraordinary and taboo relationship. "Beau Pere" aims for the head and ricochets off the heat but leaves the crotch alone. Not "Lolita" and not a film about pedophilia or seduction, this flick should be an interesting watch for anyone into films about atypical romantic relationships. (B+)
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9/10
Provocative, smart drama
fertilecelluloid1 January 2005
A gorgeously photographed and steamy tale of forbidden passion.

Boasting a superb lead performance by Patrick DeWaere as a young Frenchman battling to stifle the seductive advances of his breathtakingly beautiful step-daughter, it is grounded by fascinating character detail and an intelligent, focused script that is deeply interested in the complexities of love and desire.

Ariel Besse is the step-daughter and she is a bubbling, nubile cauldron of curiosity and mischief.

Sacha Vierny's moody photography is worthy of a coffee table hardcover and Philip Sarde's score is perfection.

A delicious, provocative, mature tale of sexual politics.
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7/10
Very intelligent
MarioB20 February 2000
Blier is not my favorite French director. Too much irony and too much Godard-a-like in his films. But this one is very different. It's written with great intelligence and, like in most of the French Cinema, it had a wonderful sense of reality. The subject is touchy : a man falls in love with a young teenager (14 years old). But here, we have not the classic Lolita. The young girl looks realistic, and so is her feelings. Superb acting and a great musical score.
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8/10
Adult and Sensitive
lambiepie-212 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I just happen to own the VHS version of this film. Again, my introduction to foreign films came from the Los Angeles Based "Z" Channel (even with the hundreds of premium channels out there in 2005, I still miss Z for I haven't seen in on American TV since! Quite sad, actually) and Sikel and Ebert's review of this.

The well-older guy falling in love with his 14 year old step-daughter theme began as a very disturbing theme to me before watching this. So...why did I view this film? As with 'Pandora' (yes, the Greek myth), I just had to know and the "Z" channel provided the choice. In watching, the film didn't go where I thought it would. It was funny. This film does take into account many sensibilities, and the unveiling of feelings that are quite into the "You can't help who you fall in love with" bit. Who's cruising on whom - is the ultimate question and it may not be as clear cut as you may think. Is it the young step daughter? Or is it the man trying to hold back what he had always done in the past? It's a question that'll keep running through your mind in this. That's what makes it adult-oriented, it's the subject matter, and trying to address the subject matter and not necessarily (potential) sexual encounters.

This is an adult oriented themed foreign film somewhat playing on the 'Lolita' theme, but with more of a twist. Hits everything, makes you wonder and provides a story...maybe not one for everyone, but one that has many sides and allows you to be the judge of it.
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8/10
An Interesting Story, Which Should Remain Just That
harrytrue4 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Beau Pere" was banned in Ontario when it first came out (the ban has since been lifted).

In Canada, the age of consent is 14 years for both men and women, and sex between a step-father and step-daughter is not considered incest. Remi would be in trouble for the fact that his step-daughter is only 15. He would be considered betraying a trust. A step-brother and step-sister can marry, so can two first cousins (now people of the same sex can marry), but not a step-parent and child. I really don't think Canada is worse off for this.

If you want smut, you should look somewhere else. It really is not smut, and you're wasting your time for something which is not worth the search. The plot ideas suggest smut, but this is a movie where the sex gets between the plot. In smut, the plot gets between the sex.

Children sometimes are sexually attracted to parents or step-parents, and parents to children, as in this movie. Marion is the one attracted to Remi. He really is not interested in her. It looks like he thinks he is doing her a favour when he yields to her and has sex with her. It does not seem like lust on his part. He seems to be loving towards her. It seems to be a twisted way to love (more on that later). Later, they jump into sex, but its' not just sex. It's the desire to be close which leads them to have sex.

Its' not really lust for Marion, just a desire to be close to Remi. She wants someone to be close with her, including in the sexual way. She turns down the chance to have sex with boys her age.

Marion seems none the worse for her sexual experiences. She breaks the relationship, and seems to be thinking that she should move on and moves in with her father, who she does not see in a sexual way. I think in reality, a parent or step-parent who has sex with a child, even if it's the childs' idea, risks opening a door which should remain closed. The physical pleasures of sex can be gotten from another source. The mental damage and the tearing up of boundaries probably is too high a price. Relationships like this belong in the movies.

Interestingly, at the end, Remys' possible future step-daughter sees him and her mother making love. Is this a possible future relationship?
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10/10
SUPERIOR DIVERSION
jacksonc3 April 1999
A superior work that takes itself seriously, but avoids the tiresome moralizing so often accompnaying American films of the same subject matter. See it if you can.
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8/10
Very good comedy
swandive9 January 2000
Patrick Dewaere was a wonderful comic actor (see him in Les Valseuses), while Ariel Besse was rather, er, young. Realistically young. I'd have liked this film even better if I hadn't had to endure the horrible dubbing into English (especially for Ariel Besse's character).
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4/10
Not As Sleazy As The Premise Sounds
ccthemovieman-117 February 2008
There is no doubt Ariel Besse is a pretty woman. I should say "girl," because she's supposed to be a 14-year-old in here who is having an affair with her 30- year-old stepfather. With that for a theme, I'm afraid this film is an allurement to perverts looking for some cheap thrills. Fortunately, it doesn't play as sleazy as it sounds and there is no actual sex shown. However, I still couldn't help but feel uncomfortable watching this, especially since Besse was about that age when she made the film and appears bare-breasted several times. Allowing their 15-year old daughter to be nude and passionately kissing an older man in a movie like this is a sad comment about Besse's parents. Interesting that most of the positive reviews here come from California. No wonder Michael Jackson liked it out there! Anyway, looking at this strictly from a film standpoint, it was a well-made movie, which was photographed decently, too. The French do make nice-looking movies, and it's not a boring story despite an abundance of nothing but talk. It's a decent story but......but this whole thing is wrong so I can't recommend this film.
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4/10
Pathetically Weak Man
theFoss21 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Patrick Dewaere character is so spineless, shallow and pathetic, that it hard to engage much sympathy for the awkwardness of his position.

His wife, Martine, was clearly the dominant member of the original relationship, and Remy seemed no more than a parasite as far as contributing to support the family.

Spoiler Warning! After Martine's death, it seemed clear that Remy lacked the strength of character to step up to the responsibilities thrust upon him to provide for and nurture the step-daughter in a positive manner.

His allowing himself to be seduced by the step daughter was so predictable because he was portrayed as such a weak cipher of man. In every way, Ariel Besse's Marion is portrayed as both the stronger willed, and more mature character.

Remy even gives up his career in a cowardly way when he latches on to a newer lover, who also is a superior talent as a pianist.

The way his character, Remy, is portrayed, one feels relieved when Marion discards him...it would be impossible for her not to be able to be able to improve on the spineless clod. And one feels sorry for his "new" lover, to whom the coward isn't even able to inform that he is also a musician. So she invites the parasite into her life, much to this viewer's horror, and the cycle begins again, as a new step-daughter eavesdrops on the sound of her mother's "passion" for this unworthy man.
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Music as Sex
tedg5 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Nabokov's "Lolita" is a milestone in literature -- the narrator is obsessed to the point where anything he says is at least synthesized out of that obsession and at worse fabricated. It is only about sex in so far as giving a focus to the obsession of being.

Here we have a very clever converse. Yes we have the stepdaughter, the "artistic" stepfather widowed by a car wreck and the copulation between the two. We have a child with the flue, and a key message delivered in writing. Performance permeates.

The difference between that message in the book and this film mirrors the difference between the perspective of the two. In "Lolita," the reading of the diary comes immediately before the accident and is unintended. Here it comes immediately after and is.

The story this time is from the girl's perspective. She is the one with the obsession and the seductive initiative. It is he that is wrapped up in performance and who is tempted away by a superior performer. Just this depth of understanding of such a radical experiment in narrative colors this film as something worth watching.

(The designated watcher in this version is the redheaded wife of a fellow musician.)

But otherwise, the film is a pedestrian affair. A few titillations, a few comedic moments, some sweetness. In other words, it carries all the baggage of a normal French film. It is bereft of, say, the lepidopteran -- or similar -- metaphors, the constant shifts in narrative layers (by this time, 1981, by no means experimental) and the references outside the film.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
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Forget it
DrdotK1 April 2003
Please! Give me a break. The cast is dead, stiff and waxy looking. A weak premise that she is so demanding, that no one could deny her, is preposterious. This film is not erotic. It had to be made by 10-year-olds. What a waste of time, not to mention celloid.
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