Hugo (Mathieu Carrière) sets out on an errand, but is sidetracked in the Paris metro whenhe chances upon the seductive Myriam (Marino Pierro). Their eyes meet, he follow her, theybeing to chat, and a dance of seduction ensues. They make their way through Paris to anapartment where they have sex, and then nothing turns out as Hugo expected.
That’s about it as far as plot is concerned. So what? you ask. You wouldn’t expect anythingmore from an avowedly erotic film. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the rest of the film is anorgy of naked flesh, however. What you have instead is a film so talkative it makes BeforeSunset look like Gerry. In fact, this 1988 effort (director Walerian Borowczyk’s lastto date) has a rather similar structure to the Richard Linklater romance, but plays out to a muchdarker conclusion. The dialogue is surreal and unbelievably ornate, and one’s enjoyment of thefilm lives or dies by how one feels about all this palaver. The subtitles can only translate the gistof the script, but not its style, and the result might well be crashingly dull for non-French-speaking viewers. There are some visual compensations, as Borowczyk, that most obsessivefetishist of inanimate objects, here worships the everyday of Paris, and invites us to look at theleast romantic, most mundane objects in a new light. The sex scene builds to a denouement thatis a remarkable visual moment, and is worth waiting for. Surreal masterpiece or interminable artwank? My own jury’s out, but I’m glad to have had the chance to think about it.
The mono is acceptable, but no more. There are a couple of instances where the music beginsto distort, but for the most part the sound is clear enough, and the sound collage of the climaxworks very well.
The aspect ratio is 1.66:1 widescreen, but isn’t anamorphic. The print is in good shape, andhas great blacks, but is also very, very soft. Granting a fair bit of soft-focus photography, the lookof the transfer is still such that the film looks older than 1988. The colours, generally, are good,but the film is sometimes murkier than I feel it needs to be.
Some liner notes and two photo galleries (one publicity, one behind the scenes, and split overthe two sides of the disc) are about it. The film does, however, come in two versions: the“Complete Version” and the “Director’s Cut,” which actually runs ten minutes shorter (perhapsfor good reason). The menu’s main screen is scored.
Not the unqualified masterpiece that is The Beast, this is still a worthwhile release,and one can but hope that Cult Epics, having given us so much Tinto Brass, will put out moreworks by this far more interesting filmmaker.