By Richard Winters
My Rating: 2 out of 10
4-Word Review: He ends his manhood.
Gerard (Gerard Depardieu) is a single father of an infant son whose wife has left him due to his controlling ways. By chance he meets Valerie (Ornella Muti) who is just getting over a tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend Michel (Michel Piccoli). She loves Gerard’s little boy and it is enough for her to move in with them almost immediately. The two have a passionate affair, but then Gerard becomes as possessive with her as he was with his ex-wife. Valerie tries to stick with it due to her feelings for the child, but Gerard’s abrasive personality and his inability to see her as anything more than a sexual object eventually becomes too much.
The film, which was directed by the notorious Marco Ferreri who was known to push-the-envelope in just about all the movies he made, is laced with a streaming sexuality that makes it almost pornographic. The sex is raw and explicit even showing Depardieu with a full erection. The characters take their clothes off and prance around naked in front of the child and even have sex with him in the room, which many American viewers will most likely find quite shocking and offensive making it easy to see why this film has never been released onto VHS, DVD or Blu-ray. The sex also seems more real and not the simulated kind one finds in most Hollywood films. There is an animalistic quality to it like it is being done unrehearsed and on-the-spot.
Unfortunately Ferreri relies too heavily on the sensual aspect to carry the film while ignoring the storyline, which is too wide-open and badly in need of more structure and editing. The sex becomes redundant and the conversations between the two characters are endless and pointless. The production plays like it has one of those scripts that gives the actors a generalized understanding of their characters and then allows them to improvise their lines, which unfortunately fails to elicit anything interesting. Ferreri’s direction lacks visual appeal by focusing in on an apartment building, which is where most of the story takes place that is too ordinary and dull.
Muti is certainly beautiful, but her acting is too restrained although it is interesting to some extent at seeing her subdued performance playing off of Depardieu’s hyper one.
Depardieu is solid as expected, but having to spend ninety percent of the time looking at his out-of-shape, chubby nude frame gets a bit trying and even gross. His character is also obnoxious and the callous way he treats Valerie eventually becomes a turn-off
The film’s biggest claim to fame though is the ending where without warning the Depardieu character takes an electrical meat cutter and slices off his own penis, which is done in such a graphic way that it will make any viewer wince and turn away. Having him then hold up the bloody thing and shove it into the faces of both his shocked and crying girlfriend and child is genuinely disturbing. However, the film as a whole is so boring that this horrific moment does not make it worth sitting through and in many ways just makes it even worse.
End of Spoiler Warning!
Released: April 21, 1976
Runtime: 1Hour 52Minutes
Director: Marco Ferreri
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Available: None at this time.