This 1974 French classic remains relatively unknown, yet still feels as original and fresh as ever.
The film follows two ageing delinquents on their perverse jaunt across France. From the opening shot, where Jean-Claude (Gerard Depardieu) is being wheeled along in a shopping trolley by his companion, it is clear this is a slightly demented picture. They give chase to a frightened middle-aged lady, molest her and steal her handbag. This sets the tone of the film.
From this point on we witness a morass of petty crime, verbal abuse, sexual antics, and violence that the two friends indulge in. Jean-Claude even sexually abuses his friend along the way.
If this sounds nothing short of disturbing, then it is a fairly accurate description. However, there is another side to this movie. Interlaced with the depravity is a sensitivity at the centre of the characters. Combined with the sense of hopelessness they face, the individuals take on a greater realism and develop in to three dimensional beings. We see them gradually develop an understanding of how to cope with their lives. The film then ends as it begins, with no particular start or finish.
The performances are superb, the dialogue sparkles, and the direction is original, conveying the freedom with which the two men lead their lives. Their criminal activities are never condemned, but they are often more sinned against than sinners.
This certainly will not be to everyone's taste, but in an era of banality, this film shows what can be done with no money, a great script and a talented cast. A gem of a picture.