Friday, January 07, 2011


[Spoilers ahead] A 60's psychedelic morality tale with a girl, a motorcycle, lots of solarized color effects, but not much else. Rebecca (Marianne Faithfull), about to marry the pleasant but dull schoolteacher Raymond (Roger Mutton), flirts with Daniel (Alain Delon), a motorcycle-riding college instructor and regular customer at her father's bookstore. While on a skiing weekend in Switzerland, Raymond wants to sneak into Rebecca's room to do some premarital fooling around, but she can't go through with it and pretends to be asleep. Later that night, however, when Daniel comes creeping in through her window, she's all about the sex. She marries Raymond but occasionally takes off on her motorcycle (a scandalous wedding gift from Daniel) and goes from her home in Alsace to carry on an affair with Daniel in Heidelberg. There is no talk of love, but clearly Daniel has "liberated" something within Rebecca--she thinks she's become a nymphomaniac. Practically the entire movie takes place one day as she's riding her motorcycle to see Daniel; in a skintight leather jumpsuit, naked underneath, she rides and writhes and delivers ridiculous interior monologues as we get her narrative in disjointed flashbacks. At the end, her mind too much on sex and not enough on the road, she is killed in a highway pile-up.

As a period piece, this is fun in spots. The director, famous cinematographer Jack Cardiff (BLACK NARCISSUS, THE AFRICAN QUEEN), uses lots of trippy color effects when we're inside her head, though there is no drug use, or even drinking, at all. If you make it through the weird opening sequence, you'll probably stick around for the whole thing: Faithfull, waking up one morning, has a swirly vision of circling birds and a dream of her husband playing a tedious cello piece in a circus spotlight while her lover rides rings around him on a motorcycle. Faithfull is lovely and has lots of screen presence, and is glimpsed naked once or twice. She and the wildly sexy Delon have good chemistry, though for a movie that is mostly set inside Faithfull's head, we never get much insight into her character, or Delon's for that matter. Obviously, Rebecca is feeling smothered, but we never quite see how or why--she does say at one point that her husband's reasonable nature has turned her into a bitch--and the fact that she is killed in the end for seeking freedom complicates the message. There are some truly ludicrous lines to be cherished: "Sometimes it's an instinct to fly"; "Rebellion's the only thing that keeps you alive"; "Your toes are like tombstones." Most of the motorcycling that Faithfull does is either in front of a rear projection screen or while obviously being towed by another vehicle. The sex scenes aren't all that sexy; the last one, in which Delon whips Faithfull with a bunch of roses while she's on top of him, has potential, but as soon as it gets interesting, the color solarization starts up again and you can't tell what the hell's going on. The Redemption DVD print is not in the best shape, but it's presentable. [DVD]

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

I love this movie, but then it's the sort of movie I would love. Nothing much happens, but it happens with style.