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Going Places (Blu-ray Review)

14 Nov, 2011 By: Mike Clark

Kino Lorber
$24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray
Not rated.
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere, Miou-Miou, Jeanne Moreau, Isabelle Huppert.

France’s most rambunctious raunchfest of its day got a rave review from Pauline Kael, who’s quoted on the box art of a title once available from Anchor Bay (and still is in the used DVD market if you don’t mind your money “going places” as well). It also enjoyed a very extended first-run engagement in my Al Roker neck of the woods (preceding additional repertory theater success that followed) when it earned similar huzzahs in the Washington Post. I wonder if it would get a similar reception in these more politically correct times, given that director/co-scripter Bertrand Blier’s two male protagonists (Gerard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere) are such consummate pigs.
Saving grace here is that the movie — which, were it even submitted to the MPAA today, might get an NC-17 — seems to know the degree to which they are, never missing an opportunity to make them the butt of the joke. Let these two hooligans accost and then suckle the breasts of an only moderately engaged young mother who’s been nursing her newborn on a train (Brigitte Fossey), and she will end up getting off the train to greet — with notable harmony — an either husband or lover who turns out to be a dweeb. It’s a capper that brings to mind a climactic bit in Hitchcock’s Rear Window where the constantly exercising “Miss Torso” James Stewart has been oogling is finally reunited with her serviceman boyfriend, who comes up to approximately her ribcage.

Speaking of appearances, Depardieu is a remarkably trim physical specimen here — especially now that he’s looking as if (and I just saw him in the past year’s My Afternoons With Margueritte) some twisted taxidermist first stuffed the body of the late Orson Welles and then wrapped Depardieu’s skin around his creation. Playing characters respectively said to be 25 and 23 (though they look older), Depardieu and Dewaere plow through a kind of Who’s Who of French actresses (at least this side of the Arletty era) in a road picture where they seem to run into a new art house household name seemingly every 20 minutes or so. As a beautician who keeps failing to reach orgasm despite sundry attempts with these jokers, Miou-Miou remains a constant — joining them in their journeys even after one of them shoots her in the leg (before one of the quickest wound recoveries I’ve ever seen on screen).

Travelling without Miou-Miou during a kind of ESPN break in the action, the guys encounter a middle-aged woman just out of prison and played memorably by Jeanne Moreau — an episode of pathos that goes a long way to soften our perceptions of their sometimes brutish characters. With Miou-Miou near the end of the picture, they stumble across a vacationing family whose hot-to-trot teenaged daughter is played by a very young Isabelle Huppert, setting up an interesting dynamic historical given the two actresses’ more mature performances not quite a decade later in Diane Kury’s Entre Nous, one of the great French movies of the ‘80s. The father in this sequence is on the loutish side, and this remains a constant. If these often dimbulb-ish thugs fail to exhibit model behavior with women (few of whom seem to emerge much worse for wear, opening episode aside), the men they encounter are as bad or worse as they are and deserve what they get.
Getting the great Stephane Grappelli to compose and play the music throughout was a stroke of genius because his jaunty compositions add a light touch that further enables us to see Depardieu and Dewaere for what they really are: goofballs. The Kino Blu-ray is exceptionally clean and attractive — better, even, than the version of Going Places that I saw first-run in a theater that was not locally renowned for its projection prowess. The same is true of the distributor’s other recent foreign-language titles, which have included onetime rep house staples from Italy like Marriage Italian Style and Boccaccio 70. Prints — usually, it was the print — got beaten up pretty badly in those days, but now (with DVD and Blu-ray), we don’t have to worry about the same splices reappearing on cue like old friends.

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