Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Last Tango in Paris


Ultimo Tango a Parigi; Erotic drama, France/ Italy, 1972; D: Bernardo Bertolucci, S: Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Maria Michi, Catherine Breillat, Massimo Girotti

Paris. American Paul angrily walks through the streets. The young French girl Jeanne is searching for an apartment and finds it, passing by a wacky receptionist. Paul and Jeanne meet in the apartment and suddenly, without any shame, start a passionate erotic relationship. From that day the two of them meet there regularly, not even knowing each other's names, and occasionally speak about their sad childhood. When she is not in the apartment, she talks with her fiance Tom who is a making a documentary about her while Paul is arguing with his mother because his wife Rosa committed suicide. Paul can't have kids so Jeanne leaves him. He follows her so she shoots him.

"Last Tango in Paris" is the most famous film by director Bernardo Bertolucci, much better than his overrated "The Last Emperor": here he analyses the relationship between a pessimistic couple who don't care about norms or limitations whereas the story is constantly traversing from demanding to boring, and back. Calling the film erotically provocative is maybe a bit of a stretch since the first intercourse starts some 12 minutes into the film, while there are only 5 erotic sequences in the entire 126 minutes of running time (thus with an average 25 minutes of "dramatic pause" between them), while they are also show in a rather scarce way for today's standards. Much more attention was given to psychology and existential themes, though the point of the story still remains vague even to this day. It's interesting that both English and French are spoken in the film, and some moments were really well done, but the characters are too empty, lax and confusing. But the joke that gives an erotic interpretation to the Little Red Riding Hood ("Why do you have such big hands?") is quite amusing. "Tango" was nominated for 2 Oscars (best director, actor Marlon Brando), 2 Golden Globes (best motion picture - drama, director) and one BAFTA (best actor M. Brando).

Grade:++

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