Monday, 22 December 2008

Goin' In Blind #5 - Going Places




"Goin' In Blind is a series of reviews of movies that I had never heard of in any context before I picked them up off the (physical or virtual) DVD rental shelf. Take a look also at He Shot Cyrus' Never Heard Of It series of posts. We both independently started doing them around the same time, but his are far more interesting...


"Going Places" is not the proper translation of the name of this 1974 French film. It's proper title is actually "Les Valseuses" which technically translates to "The Waltzers" or more generically "people who go off in all different directions". However, the English title still fits as a reasonable one as long as you attach some irony to it. The two wandering small time crooks in the film do indeed go to many different places as they bounce around aimlessly - but they never really arrive anywhere.

They sure do get around though and get involved in numerous thefts and petty crimes (not usually very well-though out ones).








Jean-Claude (Gerard Depardieu) and Pierrot (Patrick Dewaere) are the two unemployed criminals and we meet them at the outset as they tail an older woman back to her apartment and taunt and frighten her into giving up her purse. Soon they are chased out of the town - a somewhat repeating theme throughout the film...






I have to say that I was a bit conflicted in my feelings for the film...On the one hand, it has Jeanne Moreau and the beautiful young Miou-Miou, a variety of different locations and numerous surprises, but on the other its two main protagonists are just plain unlikeable. I considered turning it off after about half an hour - did I really want to spend lots of time with these two creeps? Along with all the stealing and complete lack of empathy for anyone else, they also tend to treat women like crap. The scene with the old woman at the start as well as a really disturbing one on a train (where they move in on a lone woman with a baby) were both hard to watch because of the intimidation and fear to which each woman was subjected.

But then there's Marie-Ange (Miou-Miou) - the lovely young blonde who seems bored with just about everything she does and everyone she's with. She lets the two of them stay at her place, have sex with her, treat her in demeaning ways and yet has no problem whenever they come back to her. It's hard to understand her, but my curiosity was certainly piqued.






Then there's the older Jeanne (Jeanne Moreau). While trying to pick up some young ladies at a bowling alley one night (and getting rebuffed), Jean-Claude comes up with the idea of going after an older, experienced and possibly desperate woman. And who better than a just released female convict? They find her just outside the prison walls and though she is wary of the young men (inexplicably, one of them calls her ugly), she slowly warms to them. And they start to show some respect.






After an "incident" with Jeanne, Jean-Claude and Pierrot are on the move again and Miou-Miou is along for the ride. The adventures continue and no matter my feelings about the male characters, their motives and whether I care what happens to them, I was still caught up in the episodic nature of the story. Especially during one of the more amusing sections when the three travellers have brought Jeanne's son to their temporary abode. He seems shy and a bit awkward, so the two men convince him to go to bed with Marie-Ange (who simply accepts their offer). We've discovered earlier in the film that she has never had an orgasm - so sex for her isn't something that she really cares about either way. But this time, the young timid man is able to bring her to the heights of passion. Her screams of delight are heard by Jean-Claude and Pierrot as they walk by a river and it stops them in their tracks as they both realize the young man is accomplishing what neither of them could do...







I saw the film about a month ago (I'm nothing if not timely on this blog!) and I must admit it has grown in my estimation the more I've sat back to reflect on it. The women seem to be the ones who hold the power in the end - making their own decisions and gaining their own freedoms. It's filled with some darkly comic moments including some of the small comeuppances the men receive throughout, so that eases my reservations somewhat...

It also has an early appearance by Isabelle Huppert:






And I love the last image of the film...The newly pilfered Citroen (possibly the same one they booby trapped earlier in the film) speeding along a dangerous road and disappearing into a tunnel. The implications, innuendos and possibilities all contained in that one shot were the final reward for me.


2 comments:

arneadolfsen said...

I really liked "Going Places" when it first came out and I haven't seen it since then but your review makes me want to see it again. Just a quick note, though: "Les Valseuses" literally means "The Waltzers" but it's a feminine plural so if you want to be really literal it would be "The Women Waltzers" which doesn't make sense. "Les valseuses" in French slang, however, means "the balls", as in testicles.

Bob Turnbull said...

As I said in the review itself "I'm nothing if not timely on this blog!". Apologies for the long wait for a response...

Thanks for the thoughts on the title...I hadn't thought too much about the waltzers angles too much (nor "the balls" - I did not know that), but I can certainly see a feminine spin on the title since the women do seem to hold the advantage much of the time (and most of the brains and power). Certainly numerous ways to read it though...