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  Valseuses, Les Have A Good Time All The Time
Year: 1974
Director: Bertrand Blier
Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere, Miou-Miou, Jeanne Moreau, Brigitte Fossey, Isabelle Huppert, Christian Alers, Michel Peyrelon, Gérard Boucaron, Jacques Chailleux, Eva Damien, Dominique Davray, Marco Perrin, Thierry Lhermitte
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jean-Claude (Gérard Depardieu) and Pierrot (Patrick Dewaere) are two drifters who have embraced the hippy ideal of living as freely as possible, but they don't really take to all that peace and love stuff. They spend their time indulging in petty crime to get by, as today when they steal a middle-aged woman's handbag and end up chased out of town. Then they go on a joyride in a car they find beside a beauty parlour, and drive through the night, only to return it - a mistake as it turns out when the owner, who happens to own the parlour too, is there waiting for them with his mistress Marie-Ange (Miou-Miou) - a fateful meeting...

A big hit in its native France, Les Valseuses, or Going Places as it was known in English (a more literal translation would be "The Bollocks") paved the way for the popularity of the more prominent members of its cast and highlighted a new writing-directing talent had arrived with a splash. Bertrand Blier was that man, and his film, taken from his novel, was an amoral romp through French society - in fact, more a bulldozer driven straight through French society with a combination of sex, violence and criminality. It made a truly enduring star of Depardieu and presented him as an actor prepared to take on any challenge his work might throw at him.

Talking of balls, Pierrot gets shot in his by the stolen car owner while escaping, and he and Jean-Claude have to find a hospital quick. When that hasty plan fails they break into a doctor's house and at gunpoint force him to patch Pierrot up, then steal the money from his wallet as thanks. Although the duo are displaying threatening behaviour, they never quite lose their charisma, perhaps due to the actors, perhaps due to a lack of true malice in their personalities as they are simply getting through the day with a heady mixture of cheap thrills as they grab life by the horns - and grab a number of women, too.

Now Pierrot's concerns are twofold, one, to get revenge on his assailant and two, to re-ignite his libido as his injury means he can't get it up anymore. They had sort of kidnapped the passive Marie-Ange who it transpires is frigid and has never had an orgasm, actually she just lies there as if unbothered by the whole experience. For some reason, Jean-Claude and Pierrot keep returning to Marie-Ange, even as they embark on new adventures, as if she were an unconquered peak or alternatively someone who can be relied upon to be there at the end of each adventure.

One of those adventures signals a change of pace to an approach more deserving of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. After becoming impatient with the lack of results with two young women in a bowling alley, Jean-Claude (who always seems to get the ideas) proposes hanging around outside a women's prison and seducing the first prisoner they see released. This woman is Jeanne (Jeanne Moreau, a veteran matching the bravery of her younger co-stars), and the two men are surprisingly tender towards her. But the shocking act that ends their brief relationship sends the two men back with Marie-Ange and to seek out Jeanne's son (Jacques Chailleux) and the film enters a new, more generous phase. Maybe you wouldn't appreciate your own encounter Jean-Claude and Pierrot, but their story is an engaging and curiously life-affirming one despite itself, although it does trail off before the finish. Music by Stephane Grappelli.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Bertrand Blier  (1939 - )

French writer-director who rarely shies away from controversy. The son of actor Bernard Blier, who also appeared in his films, he graduated from documentaries to features and seized international attention with extreme comedy Les Valseuses. Blier then won an Oscar for Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Preparez vos Mouchoirs), and carried on his idiosyncratically humorous style with Buffet Froid, Beau-Pere, Tenue de Soiree and Trop Belle Pour Toi. Since 1991's Merci la Vie he hasn't had much distribution outside of France, but continues to work, still finding roles for Gerard Depardieu.

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