Welcome to the French Riviera, 1962. The youth are beautiful, aimless, and amoral.Searching for meaning in his life, whiny mope Olivier meets the sweet Barbara. These two mighthave something together, but Olivier must take a wide detour on the way to true love, as he firstfalls in with a pack led by Philippe and Elke (played be, you guessed it, Elke Sommer).
All sorts of hilarious stabs at decadence ensue, as imagined by director/co-scripter MaxPécas, a very conserv…tive exploitation director. What he wants here, is La Dolce Vita forthe younger set, but what he has actually made as a beach blanket movie as scripted by Jean-PaulSartre. The plot, what there is of it, is nonsense: gloomy pseudo-existential musings punctuatedby aimless parties. The film’s silly pretensions make it entertaining in spite of itself, however,and the cinematography is often quite striking. Just before the risible conclusion, where everyonelearns the errors of their ways and reforms (thus maintaining the usual hypocritical stance of suchfilms: show us the sex, then sermonize), there are two genuinely suspenseful sequences.Ridiculous but never boring, Douce Violence is fascinating artifact.
The mono soundtrack is showing its age, especially in the early goings. The music (includinga hit song for Johnny Halliday) is largely free of gurgles, but there is distortion in the higherregisters of both it and the dialogue. Should you wish to view the film in the dubbed English (Lord know why), be aware that there are some passages for which an English language track does not exist, so you’re back to the subtitles there again.
The aspect ratio is 2.35:1, and it’s nice to see that a Pathfinder release at last that isanamorphic. The transfer could still use some work: there is some visible edge enhancement, andthere is a fair bit of shimmer and shudder for the first part of the film. As we go along, the picturesharpens and the grain diminishes. The latter half of the film is blessed by luminous B&Wphotography, and the contrasts are gorgeously rendered by the transfer.
Ric Minello writes quite extensive biographies about Elke Sommer and Max Pécas. Hisessay on the film itself functions almost as a collection of mini-bios of the other filmmakersinvolved. Richly informative, the essays do make a couple of small missteps in the Frenchspellings of titles. There is also a still gallery. The menu is scored with the title track.
Deeply silly, the film is prettily shot, but not actually good. It is, however, entertaining.
Special Features List
- Biographical Essays
- Film Essay
- Still Gallery