dir: Bertrand Blier
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This film is terrible even by the standards of French cinema. I’m no Gallophobe, disliking the French or their cinema by any stretch of the imagination, but this flick is appalling according to any criteria that I can think to apply.
Look, it’s not the acting. The actors are, I’m sure, doing the best they can with the material. And many a French film possesses a certain arch or pretentious sensibility that would be ridiculed in flicks from any other culture. But here, the scripting, the plotting and the editing combine to produce an absolutely shithouse result that knows no borders.
It’s not unpleasant to watch for most of the time, with the sound and subtitles turned off. Any film that has Monica Bellucci in it has at least two good reasons to watch it, whether lingerie clad or not. And the great advantage that this film has over, say, Irreversible, is that the audience isn’t subjected to watching her being subjected to the most horrendous assault imaginable over a prolonged period of time.
But this film is still appalling. Even with Bellucci, and Gerard Depardieu, that giant of French cinema in more ways than one, in this flick, it’s still unwatchably stupid.
What a script… Francois (Bernard Campan) stands outside a brothel / bar. He looks desperately through the window at one of the prostitutes waiting for her next customer. He walks in, tells her he’s just won 4 million Euro in the lottery, and that he’ll pay her 100,000 Euro a month if she’ll live with him until the money runs out.
Naturally, she agrees. He is in love with her, even though he’s just met her, you see, and men in love do silly things.
But she is a whore (the word is continually used by herself and by others to describe her, so it’s not my imputation, the word used mostly is putan and occasionally salope) not out of necessity or by circumstance. She is a whore because she simply likes to fuck whoever whenever just to have something to do. She is less a slave to cock than she is simply designed to cater to middle-aged men’s fantasies about prostitutes in particular and women in general.
Not only that, as Francois moons over her when she grows bored of staying home and leaves (before coming back and leaving fourteen or fifteen times), we find out she is actually married to a badass gangster called Charly (Gerard Depardieu), who wants her back so he can have sex with her in front of his bodyguards.
Even for French people, none of any of the stuff they do makes sense. At all.
Look, I’ll be damned if I can find a single credible motivation or aspect to any of these characters that makes sense in the real world on Earth as we know it. In the Gallic bizarro world these characters inhabit, they behave in such ways that must even seem strange to French retards.
Relating what occurs later on is pointless, and I don’t want to sully people’s brains with the more irritating or plain idiotic stuff that happens, suffice to say that it projects a serious tone in moments that seem like they’re supposed to be comedic (and are more cringeworthy), and seems ludicrous in moments that are meant to be dramatic.
The tone is all over the place, and it doesn’t help that several scenes look like they were alternates that were initially going to be discarded, but they’ve been reinserted in an ungainly fashioin, despite the fact that they don’t belong. So a scene will play out (in about three circumstances), and then a scene similar to it, with different lighting will then occur, with different dialogue and a different resolution, but then the flick will continue with no indication of which one is part of the story and which one was a wank on the part of the director.
Awful, awful, awful. Calling it a dog’s breakfast is an insult to dogs and their breakfasts. I really can’t see any redeeming features to any of this, whilst still being mindful of the fact that the director is trying desperately hard to say something meaningful.
The director’s ultimate message is essentially that women are all whores, and that us pussywhipped men are perpetually at their mercy. They might not all look like Monica Bellucci, but they’re all gagging for it even though they’re incapable of love. The one thing that makes them stop and look around whilst servicing any man’s needs is the smell of money. Money isn’t the reason they fuck, but is part of the package that includes the desire to find security through being possessed by a man.
Branding these kinds of middle-aged meanderings as puerile misses the point that I don’t think the flick or the 67-year-old director are specifically trying to be misogynist. In his mind he was possibly making witty and profound statements about human relationships, sex and love, wrapped up in the artifice of a comedy / drama.
The problem is that there is nothing witty, risqué or novel about any of this. Let me put it this way: Pretty Woman, yes, Pretty goddamn Woman is a more accurate, believable and enjoyable film than this. Pretty Woman, representing as it does a prostitute with a heart of gold exchanging one type of servitude for another thanks to the ‘love’ of a multi-millionaire, makes more sense than How Much Do You Love Me? I can think of no harsher indictment than that.
The culmination of the movie towards its idiotic ending is so profoundly absurd that it changes the parameters by which all other absurdity shall now by judged. Few films are bad enough to do such a thing.
I’ve wasted enough electrons and fingertip skin cells on this appalling crapfest. Rarely do I tell people not to watch a film if it still sounds like it might interest them. I urge anyone, fans of French cinema or not, to never watch this flick, and to treat with caution or contempt anyone they know who claims to have watched it and liked it.
Only 1 reason to watch this flick out of 10. And even then, there’s no point in this internet age to see a bad film with Monica Bellucci in it if you don’t have to.
“I am a very bad man.”
“No you’re not.”
“Oh, I am. I’m very bad.” – dialogue taken from a Michael Jackson song masquerading as French wit, How Much Do You Love Me?