Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris" (1972)

I watched the movie for Marlon Brando, and he did not disappoint. His character Paul is a study of inarticulate grief. His wife dead from suicide, he takes up with a young engaged woman (Jeanne played by Maria Schneider) on the condition that both remain anonymous to each other: personal knowledge is too painful. 

So sex, sex and more sex in an unfurnished apartment that stands for a relationship stripped bare of context, for an unrenovated present. The tragedy comes when Paul changes, when he wants more, only to find Jeanne wanting less. Without diluting the specificity of the widower's grief, one can still say that the same tragedy applies to all relationships of unequal passion. 

Of the infamous anal sex scene, Maria Schneider, at 55, was reported in New York Post as saying, "I never use butter to cook anymore--only olive oil." Tragedy turned bathos. 

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