This is the story of two thoroughly unpleasant young(ish) men with a total inability to relate to women, who travel around acting out their masterbation fantasies to an excellent soundtrack. This is a road movie about three women making their individual journeys towards sexual fulfillment, adulthood and resolution to an excellent soundtrack. This film is a hilarious send-up of the bourgoisie, which the French do so well. This is a new-age, hippy film about living by your own rules and Kharma (watch out for the green car). This the most disturbing film I had seen at age eighteen, I still remembered most of it when I watched it again nearly twenty years later. In a waltz couples move around in circles, with the women mostly going backwards (the English title is "Going Places" but should perhaps be "Going Nowhere"). "Les Valseuses" is also slang for testicles. I hope that gives you some idea of the brilliance and complexity of this film. It is extremely well-acted by all participants, with beautiful cinematography and an excellent soundtrack (did I mention that?). I don't know if you will enjoy this film, if you haven't seen any Blier films before, you might want to watch the rather less disturbing "Tenue de Soiree" ("Menage") first, but you will not forget it.
Bertrand Blier’s early (1974) film - essentially an anarchic black comedy – has, approaching half a century later, lost none of its ability to shock and exhilarate, or indeed to repeatedly amuse and, just occasionally, touch the heart. Released outside of France under the title 'Going Places’, we’re soon left in no doubt that the more literal meaning of the film’s French slang title (viz. the male nether regions) is rather more appropriate, given Blier’s ever-present focus on sex. But, provided you can view the film’s obvious un-PC (by modern-day standards) qualities and its possible comparison with Benny Hill (as the film’s pair of ne’er-do-wells, Gérard Depardieu’s Jean-Claude and Patrick Dewaere’s Pierrot, repeatedly flee to the tune of Stéphane Grappelli’s manic violin!), through the prism of Blier’s sense of offbeat, black comedy, then (I find) the film’s themes of emasculation and social marginalisation are also there beneath what is most obviously a hedonistic rollercoaster of a cinematic road trip.
Certainly, both Depardieu and Dewaere do exude a deceptive charm beneath their veneer of puerile misogyny and their jack-the-lad cockiness has us largely rooting for them, even if Blier repeatedly undermines their self-confidence by their 'castration’ – first, (almost literally) via Pierrot’s gunshot wound, then via the apparent (sexual) disinterest shown by Miou-Miou’s Marie-Ange and later as Jacques Chailleux’s geeky Jacques is able to awaken in Marie-Ange something our 'heroes’ were not, much to their obvious chagrin (these latter two sequences being among the film’s many genuinely funny moments). Along the way, Blier gives us a taste of more serious (though still characteristically offbeat) themes as Jean-Claude and Pierrot pick up (the impressive) Jeanne Moreau’s seeming kindred (outsider) spirit Jeanne, just released from prison, whilst a young Isabelle Huppert puts in a late appearance as the rebellious 16-year old daughter, Jacqueline, as Blier’s pair of miscreants purloin from her parents yet another car to continue their escapades.
With its very brazen anarchic, sexual and violent content plus an over-riding satirical sense, Blier’s film variously called to my mind films as disparate as A Clockwork Orange, Bonnie & Clyde and the work of Luis Bunuel and whilst it may not compete with the level of cinematic accomplishment of such works, it remains a vibrant piece of cinema.
Les Valseues have key elements to be a classic: Excellent performances (Depardieu outstanding, Deweare almost touching perfection, Miou Miou is unforgettable) Completely original script. Superb direction and control of an almost totally implausible story. One of my favorite films of all times. Adult themes, outrageous situations, drama, passions and relationships tested to the limit.
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.
While it is very much a product of its time, I have to admit to feeling a certain lever of discomfort at the level of misogyny and violence against women in this film. At first it seemed mildly amusing with the characters of Jean-Claude and Pierrot as likeable rogues who steal what they want and have sex with who they want and within the context of the film it was somewhat justifiable, but halfway through the film it started to made me feel fairly uncomfortable. Despite the negative aspects of the film it's extremely watchable and strangely has a certain charm about it.
a gem of a picture. It launched Gerard Depardieu to international fame. Unfortunately his co star killed himself in 1982. Hysterical farce showing two drifters roaming and creating havoc in 1970s France. It even has a male bonding scene that predates American buddy films in a perverse "it's ok between friends" sense. watch this film and fall off your chair laughing.
Les Valseuses may have seemed avant-garde when it was released but it now seems to me to be offensive and rather pointless. There is nothing clever about bullying yobs on the prowl being totally selfish and treating other people, particularly women, badly.
Much better in every respect is Blier's later film Tenue de Soirée, again with Gérard Depardieu as a larger-than-life figure and again with Miou Miou. It is even franker in sexual content but much better written, wittier and strangely lyrical -- a bitter-sweet look, cruel yet tender, at human sexual desire, gay and straight. It's a much more mature work with an excellent supporting cast and I'm surprised it's not at the moment available in a region 2 subtitled version.