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Consuming Passions
Ben Calmes3 December 1999
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.
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Polanski doing what he does best
The_Void21 March 2005
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 audience!

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.
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eerie life, arcane love
strindbergman21 March 2004
when i first saw this movie in 1992 i found it shocking by its erotic scenes and burn-out love story. i noticed it was a good movie, but that was the end 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.
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Entrancing, mesmeric and serpentine
Afracious22 November 1999
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.
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A VERY tragic story about broken love...
SdwOne2 February 2005
Warning: 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.
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Adds to our understanding of sex as politics
Tim O'Grady24 June 1999
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 a movie. According to Polanski, it is not love and hate which 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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Bitter Moon. A forgotten masterpiece
kit-744 July 2005
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.
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Compelling, delightful film!
gridoon14 October 1999
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 also wonderful, 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.
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As black as they come... but rarely as brilliant- and Coyote is devastatingly good!
ozjeppe4 February 2007
Stiff British couple on an ocean-liner cruise run into, and is spellbound by an American-French man & wife with a highly unusual past... Director Polanski brilliantly brings us this unforgettable, jet-black and haunting story of love and desire, and the threat of pushing them to obsessive limits- you can almost hear the bells of doom ring as the setting of the ship shifts to beautiful Paris and Coyote's voice-over...

Definitely controversial and unsettling, but it's one of those occasions that you just can't resist (like Grant's character does) following characters that aren't necessarily instantly likable. And therein, Peter Coyote excels in an absolutely devastating performance as the failed writer! Borderlines occasionally into sensationalistic kinkiness, but always recovers... not to mention by featuring one of the best (and saddest) endings I can think of.

9 out of 10 from Ozjeppe
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Deep and subject of analysis
RResende12 August 2003
I found this film extremely well done for several reasons I will nominate.

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.
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An Unconventional Story, About Relationship, Moral, Hypocrisy, Behavior, Love and Hate, In Another Masterpiece of Roman Polanski
Claudio Carvalho19 July 2004
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')
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"Bitter Moon" knocks off the world-known heavyweight "XXX thriller" champs in the first round
Andrei Pavlov30 January 2012
The story unfolds in a rather pessimistic and suicidal manner (similar to the other Polansky flicks). By the end of it the four leading characters are tied up in a highly erratic, erotic, and deadly knot. Personally I had underestimated this film considering it to be some shallow soft porn, but now after watching it, I consider it to be an amazing psychological drama that digs deep into man and woman. The story, however tragic and frantic, looks and feels very realistic. It is shown in vivid colours how a man can frustrate his life and how a woman can fade away under the influence of her partner's cruelty. That's for the story. Just an external layer, to be more exact.

As to the technical side of the production, I would say that the colour scheme of the movie, the shots of the ocean and the wandering ship, the representation of the New Year party (when the booze opens gates to all manner of deviations – with even a couple of karate/kung-fu moves, which you never expected to come), the choice of actors, and their play are all quite impressive. No major changes in any aspect of this film are needed (though it would have been a bit better without certain hot material in the middle of the film, while as you can clearly perceive, the UNSEEN sexual intercourse with the black male dancer IS the breaking point in the story, though not the only one, proving again that often it's what you don't see on screen disturbs the most). The Mimi character is as overwhelming, as only a woman can be.

Once I watched "Basic Instinct" (many years ago) and kind of liked it. Then there was "Lolita". Also found it not bad. "Eyes Wide Shut" was next - found it interesting too. "Dogville" was next and really enjoyed its exploitation hysteria. But "Bitter Moon", touching upon similar topics, simply kicks those four off to non-existence being superior on all levels: the story, the drama, the punch line, the actors' play, the camera-work and the decorations (maybe on a par with "Eyes Wide Shut" in this department), the music (the choice of melodies for the different sets just hits the mark - it is as good as the choice of the music for Rockstar's "Vice City", if you know what I mean), etc. Actually remember watching quite a number of adult thrillers and to me this one is the winner in the category. Being adult with XXX material (meaning scenes of sex), it is not an erotic showcase. It is a showcase of the popular modern way of leading a joyful life of pleasures. It is a showcase of ignorant souls (ignorance is bliss) and malfunctioning bodies, A showcase of a dead end. "To die young is glorious", "Sleep with and impregnate as many girls as possible", "Don't think about tomorrow - it's weakness", "We live only once and should taste it all". Are these mottoes correct? The movie makes harsh statements without being didactic.

If this film is a kind of warning for you – that's pretty helpful, if it's more of a mirror – that's pretty exasperating. But in both cases it's a knife thrown in your lake. There will be crease marks.

It's also one of those rare films when, after watching, I am interested in the career of the leading actors. Their performance here is not just fine, it's freaking on the verge.

Have not expected to give this movie a high mark, but cannot help it. It evokes deep emotions and from now on it is definitely my favourite adult thriller. A 9 out of 10. Thank you for attention.
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A lost gem!
PhilipHamilton9222 February 2015
Not as much as underrated as much as forgotten, "Bitter Moon" is a stellar portrayal of a dysfunctional marital relations ans a story of the edge between love and madness which opens the question whether love can make all of us madmen. The movie contains powerhouse performances from all actors involved and the fact that whole plot is happening on a boat leaves a sense of claustrophobia and suffocating. However, the real story and background lie in the flashbacks of a leading actor, played by Peter Coyote whose intimate confession to a fellow passenger (played by Hugh Grant) about his marriage, pushes Hugh's character in a bizarre triangle between his own wife (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) and Peter's character's wife (played by Emmanuelle Seigner). Both married couples are faced with desire, self-destruction and deceit in this poignant drama, which does carry a recognisable trademark of its director, Roman Polanski.
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Mimi represents the powerful obsession Man has in the quest for splendor on Earth/Oscar Let's it Go
chazz46-28 December 2012
Much has been well described ad nauseum about the plot, music, background, character flaws, etc. of Bitter Moon. Besides all of these truths, there is something else that exists, namely the powerful feminine impact that Mimi portrayed to the extent that it seemed far too real to be left encased in the fantasy realm of movie art. Her character part as well as her actual beauty, dancing talent, and sexuality is the exponent of femininity, grace, and desirability. Men remain tortured by their obsession with everything that Mimi portrayed in the film. Not unlike Jean Seberg in Lilith, whose character mesmerized, beguiled, and commandeered most of those who ran across her path, Mimi had that quality which likewise reaches out beyond the movie itself to ensnare the hearts of all men. Not everyone gets it, but it is plain to see from galleries of fan mail to Emmanuelle Seigner, this one movie part seems to have entrenched her immortality into many men's souls. This gut-wrenching obsession with the magical combination of a certain actress coupled to a script and director brings forth restless insomnia for appreciative men as Seigner has done here. If Jean Seberg did not bring such an obsession, then consider Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Or try Kim Novack in Bell Book and Candle. These are a few of the magical concoctions of film art where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Oscar's character even tries to elevate the beauty and desirability of the less stunning Fiona's character when he says, "But I find your own brand of beauty more that inimitably British quality......a kind of reticence that hints of untapped potentiality." Even Shakespeare, much less Oscar, cannot compensate with words for those who appear limited in physical beauty and sensuousness, while Seigner's beauty portrays endless potential for being tapped, you might say. And Polanski's product leads to a powerful representation of man's instinct and obsession for beauty, sensuousness, and the ideal everyman's woman. We see that Oscar, when given this rare opportunity in the eyes of the average man, totally blows it and ruins a most ideal relationship. Unfortunately, knowing Polanski's historical tragedies, I would think that he is telling us that we are probably no better than Oscar when it comes to successfully nurturing the ideal relationship. ChazzN
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Dark, mesmerizing masterpiece!
Keith Brandt10 June 2013
First off, this film is one of the more unique I have ever watched. It does not fit into any specific genre as it combines romance, mystery, drama, comedy and yes, horror into a strange film you cannot turn off. I have watched it multiple times and with each viewing find something new I did not catch before. There is nothing I would change about this film.

Don't let the reviews that tout this as soft-core porn or a movie about BDSM or twisted sex games gone wrong unduly influence you. The BDSM scenes are indeed integral to the story, as the story is about excess, extremes, and coping.

Yes, there are some kinky sex scenes and descriptive narrations, but at its root it is a story about power (the power of love, infatuation, hate, obsession, cruelty, revenge) and how dangerous that power can be when employed by a selfish person and not tempered with compassion or empathy. How that power can be used to destroy a life, even if seemingly unintentional.

Oscar is a selfish, older man obsessed with pursuing his sexual needs. He "thinks" he falls in love with a beautiful young woman (Mimi), only to grow bored with her after the infatuation stage is over. She is naïve, somewhat innocent (open to debate), and truly loves him. He is only interested in the wild, sensual sex and how far he can ratchet up the sensations.

Ironically, it is the older Oscar who mistakes infatuation/sex for true love while the younger Mimi merely uses it as an expression of her love. For those with a basic understanding of SM relationships (Dom and sub), we see that Mimi first plays the role of the Dom within the bedroom, pleasing Oscar to his delight through various physical acts.

When these roles are reversed, however, we find that Oscar is a terrible dominant – disregarding the nurturing aspect of D/s and taking it too far with emotional and psychological cruelty. Instead of using this role reversal to show love, he instead uses it in an attempt to drive her away from him as he becomes completely indifferent to her. Basically, he is a terrible, selfish person and ultimately abandons her so he can purse random sex with other women. At this point Mimi is "poisoned" (as Oscar's narrative references movie title).

The once naïve and innocent Mimi re-enters his life after an accident, only now she is cold, hateful, lost, and seeking a type of revenge, perhaps to show she is worthy of his love after all (yeah, it is screwed up). Oscar has basically ruined her life (watch and you will see how in gruesome detail), depriving her of any future normal relationship due to his extremes For this reason, she becomes just as cruel (if not more so) than him – in a perverse effort to become like the man she loves.

Even as she matures, she still only exists to others as he defined her from their relationship – that of a sexual object. Oscar stays the same creepy, narcissistic bastard to the bitter end; it is really only Mimi whose personality evolves at all – even if it is in the wrong direction.

There is MUCH more to the movie than be summarized here, and for fear of spoilers I will not go into any detail. But is a film you cannot forget and will want to watch several times. It is dark, brooding and tragic, with complex psychological elements – definitely leaves an impression.

Every guy needs to see this film, if for no other reason than to see the horrors that such selfishness can produce. Sure, not all every woman used and discarded will turn into Mimi, but this movie makes you examine yourself and realize that damage is still being done even if not to such an extreme.

Unless you are just simply not paying attention, you cannot walk away the same person as the story does stick with you. Yes, it is ultimately a love story (Mimi's love story – not Oscar's), but one unlike any you have ever seen before. The movie is deep, thought-provoking, and gruesome. I think you have to be 35+ or emotionally mature to really appreciate or understand its dark beauty and savagery.
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Dry Pulp
Warning: Spoilers
A memory film that is quite forgettable. Untalented American writer living the ultimate petty-bourgeois life in Paris, and who thinks he's Hemingway, falls in love at first sight with a young French woman while riding on a bus.He gives her his ticket and leaves the bus. He then looks all over for her--I thought writers write?-- and finally finds her waiting tables in a restaurant. He takes her to dinner. They fall in love. They make love. Then they begin to have kinky sex. Then she becomes a dominatrix and he becomes her willing slave. They dabble in fantasy/bestiality via a pig mask. The untalented writer begins to lose interest in her. Now he becomes a sadist and she becomes a martyred masochist. He tells her he's carrying his child. She aborts the pregnancy. He tells her lets go someplace far away. They get on a plane bound fro Martinique. He leaves the plane before it takes off and he abandons her. He then begins to live the life of a playboy--maybe if he had to work for a living he'd be a better writer--and "makes up for lost time." He is hit by a car. Then he is visited in the hospital by his former whipping post, she knocks him out of bed and he becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Now she becomes his sadist/nurse/wife and he becomes a martry. I'd go on but I think I'm making my point.

Prententious garbage. Not a comedy, not a drama, not black comedy, certainly not tragedy, not parody. Just an insult to any intelligent movie goer. And by by the end of the film, Peter Coyote began to resemble Wyle E. Coyote.
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It would be convenient to consider the narrator and his wife to be a couple who simply took their sex games too far
christopher-underwood11 February 2007
The ever underrated Polanski and one of his most underrated and overlooked films. Many have cited as possible reasons the director's difficulties with the US authorities but equally it must be said this is difficult territory. It would be convenient to consider the narrator and his wife to be a couple who simply took their sex games too far and then got their inevitable comeuppance. What we are forced to participate in here, however, is the very ebb and flow of love and lust between two people not afraid to let their passions take them to the edge and even over. The moral of this tale is not that men are evil bastards and women cruelly treated but that we all have those dominant and submissive elements within us that we can use for fun or for real. In the early stages Oscar revels in playing the humiliated one, later the tables turn and finally turn again. Everybody has been known to take a sexually orientated or humorously intended remark or game too far and can surely recognise the elements displayed here even if they are written rather larger than we are used to. A passionate, moving and insightful film.
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Heartwrenching filthy spectacular
anderssonokompani6 December 2004
Roman Polanski really outdid himself in this original film about lust,perversions,love,dependencies,relationships and the evil of man. All shaped and formed in the city of love,Paris.You're flung to and from Paris on to a cruise on open dark waters.The shift and the graphic story send your sealegs a drift.

Hugh Grant ,in his shy studdering act of a prude sexually frustrated Englishman drawn into temptation by the french vamp,is adorable compared to the other characters in the film.

Curiosity killed the cat!

This movie is at times very erotic and then it slides down to real perversity's.

It captures you and doesn't leave you unmarked.
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Holy Crap, Batman!
TerryTolkin5 July 2017
I don't exactly understand how "Bitter Moon" is not ensconced as Polanski's greatest achievement. Period. There are moments in this movie that are truly harrowing and more disturbing than any moment in "Rosemary' Baby"or "The Pianist". I saw this the first week it opened in NYC and I was the only person in the theater. I took a shower when I got home.
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The love and desire, then the mess and disaster of relationships
Anouk Anouk14 July 2016
I recently saw a quote that really made me think this through and it was something like this: "The certain method to destroy a relation with someone is to stay with that someone in a relationship"

I guess this was Polanski's idea as well.

Of course, the movie is all about all the ups and downs of the relationships, how we get wings when we are in love, how desire turns us into wild animals, full of lust, how love can make the best version of yourself and how deceit makes your destiny miserable, how you are the king of the world when love is mutual and how you turn into a slave after the love is consumed.

And this is what this movie is all about: how loves devours itself from the inside, how the flame ceases to burn and you find yourself empty on the inside. It's the human destiny, our supreme goal and our supreme pain.

Wonderfully set, don't get fooled by the erotic scenes (which are simply majestic), this movie is so much more than sex. It is a totally new approach, intense and painful, I guess it is the best movie about relationships. The soundtrack is in perfect harmony with the scenes and the message.

Simply marvelous!
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Cultures of too much and just right
Thaneevuth Jankrajang6 December 2014
Almost everyone would talk about politics of sex, twisted passions, and state of fantasy, which this film is partially about. I think the final scene, when the little Indian girl came to wish those husband and wife a happy new year for her father, who stood at a distance, tells it all. Western way has become too greedy, overflowing, and dangerous to oneself. Oscar and Mimi had it all their way, perhaps all the tasteful and tasteless sex known to man, and they ended up losing everything over them. We don't know if the Indian gentleman's presence is to offer an oriental civilization as a cure to western capitalistic decay, but Polanski seems to offer that scene as an alternative of life. This is a man who mocks oriental civilization all his life, Polanski that is. Any Chinese personality in his films is portrayed as mysterious, mischievous, and a mockery. Maybe at this point in life, Polanski starts to see things through. This film is a phenomenon. It is made by someone who perhaps tasted all the tastes and smelled all the smells. Tragedies in real life of Polanski may have even added to his firm grasp of what human beings are really like. As a true artist, he is so masterful in exhibiting what he knows, and we all benefit from him. Please watch this film without asking too many questions at first. Live along and you'll be rewarded.
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This is not a comedy, nor is it a porno flick (mild spoilers)
LowGenius9 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
In disagreement with "Howlin Wolf," I feel the need to point out that this is not supposed to be "Rambone 47" or "Porky's." This is a dark, brooding film that serves as a study in dysfunctional relationships, with all of the warts and sores and scars carefully highlighted for maximum impact. I don't want to spoil too much, but suffice it to say that this film is replete with irony so thick you can cut it with a knife. It's not a happy movie; it's not a movie designed to make you feel good about relationships. It's about bitterness, anguish, and the strange way that life has of catching up to you in ways you never expected. People who would enjoy this movie to is fullest potential would be Polanski fans, women who have just left abusive relationships, and recently single men trying hard not to face their own role in the demise of their recent relationship. It will make you look harder at yourself, and if you are in a relationship, it might make you try harder to be a good person within that relationship's confines.

Revenge is indeed a dish best served cold....and bitter.
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An unsung masterpiece
tieman647 August 2006
Few critics took this film seriously when it was released, but it's now steadily beginning to garner attention. Today it ranks as one of Polanski's best.

"Bitter Moon" is a powerful film about love, and to view it as a sort of a soft-core titillation exercise by Polanski is to miss the point. The up-front sexuality of the film is there, not to merely provoke a cheap arousal from the viewer, but to point out how empty and hollow the couple's relationship really is. Most men will empathise with the morality (or lack of) in this confused relationship between an older man obsessed with his sexual object, 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.

9/10 - Filed with lush cinematography and romantic Parisian architecture, the film's only flaw is its Hugh Grant subplot. Everything else is electric, with a dark playfulness that only Polanski can deliver. Worth several viewings.

Note: Peter Coyote's room number, 5A, is the same as Tom Cruise's apartment from "Eyes Wide Shut". Both films have similar themes. When "Eyes Wide Shut" was released, Polanski made "The Ninth Gate", a film which features an "Eyes Wide Shut" styled ritual. Both films are similar in tone.
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Stunning. Why isn't this out on DVD?
Dean_Hannas14 February 2003
Sexy, dark, funny and smart. One of the best and most underrated films of the 1990's. Why isn't this film on DVD? Sure it's not for everyone, sorry Ben Affleck isn't in this one ... Polanski is a master, fearless, one of the all time great film directors. This film shows why. There's my two cents.
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