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La dernière femme (The Last Woman)

Posted by martinteller on April 23, 2013

Gerard (Gérard Depardieu) is an engineer, and the factory he works at has just put their employees on forced vacation.  His wife (Zouzou) left him some time ago.  He goes to pick up his toddler at day care, and hits on Valerie (Ornella Muti), the attractive young worker there.  He convinces her to blow off a romantic weekend with her lover Michel (Michel Piccoli) and come home with him.  The two engage in carnal desires, but after a while he becomes confounded and frustrated by her, failing to understand her desires.

If you didn’t get enough of Depardieu’s penis in Bertolucci’s 1900, you’ll get plenty of it here.  It should have top billing.  Gerard thinks with his junk, which is frequently exposed, occasionally even in a state of arousal.  You’ll see a lot of Muti, too.  But what starts as Last Tango in Paris-esque hedonism becomes more of a Hong Sang-soo style critique of men unable to cope with modern women.  Gerard is hopelessly stuck in an outdated patriarchal mode, jealous and possessive, believing as the male in the household it should be his right to have sex whenever he wants.  He waves his infant’s penis in Valerie’s face, as if the mere fact that his child possesses male genitalia is a source of pride.  He lives in a modern world — just about the only natural thing in his environment is the food he wolfs down — but modern concepts like feminism have passed him by.

It’s a bit hard for me to judge the acting, as the only copy I could find was dubbed in German.  But it seemed like a strong and funny performance by Depardieu, and obviously a bold one.  The humor of the film is difficult to pull off, and to be honest I didn’t find it quite as funny as I think I was meant to, but it was amusing.  Muti is on point as well, her moods reacting to Gerard’s childish behavior are complex.

Not one of my favorites by Marco Ferreri — perhaps for the same reasons I don’t get that excited about Hong — but a pointed satire with a disturbing and thought-provoking conclusion.  Rating: Good (79)


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