Friday, June 22, 2012

MORE (1969)

Handsome Stefan, a recent college graduate from Germany, decides to take some time to travel through Europe to find himself (it was the 60s, after all) before settling down. In Paris, he loses all his money gambling, but he makes friends with the scruffy Charlie who helps him out. Soon he meets up with American girl Estelle. Charlie warns him about her but he falls for her anyway; they get high, have sex, and make plans to meet in Ibezia where she lives at a hotel run by the somewhat mysterious Dr. Wolf who is rumored to be an ex-Nazi. When Stefan gets there, she proves hard to find, and when he does find her, she's a little weird and distant, and shacking up with a woman named Cathy with whom she is obviously on intimate terms.  It's also possible that she's boffing Dr. Wolf. Eventually, Stefan gets Estelle to go away with him to a deserted part of the island and they romp about uninhibitedly, sunbathing in the nude, getting high and having more sex (it was the 60s, after all). Paradise is lost, however, when Cathy stops by, looking for some heroin—apparently Dr. Wolf supplies it to some of the locals.  Soon Stefan finds Estelle passed out on the rocks and decides he wants to try some of this stuff.  Things go downhill from here as the two go through cycles of addiction which they try to break by taking acid.  Ultimately, Estelle is left to an unknown fate and Stefan, hunting for her, shoots up in an alleyway and dies with a mangy dog sniffing around his body and only Charlie there to mourn him.

Like THE VALLEY, which was made three years later, this is an early Barbet Schroeder film with a Pink Floyd soundtrack and a druggy 60s vibe.  However, despite the era and the trappings, this is neither a psychedelic trip movie nor a "just say no" message film.  The various instances of folks getting high are shot objectively with no colors or effects or frills. There is much more Pink Floyd music here than in THE VALLEY, but there is less plot and, if possible, less characterization.  It's difficult to sympathize with either lead character because they are both zeros, in personality and in backstory. The actors, Klaus Grunberg and Mimsy Farmer, are pretty and their acting is adequate, but Schroeder hasn't given them much to work with.  Michael Chanderli as Charlie actually has more personality than either lead. At one point, Grunberg relates a story about a cult of sun-worshippers in India who sit in the sun hoping for sensation or enlightenment until they shrivel up and die, and I think that's supposed to illuminate the narrative (there is a lot of sun and searching for sensation), but really, I think everything this movie has to offer is on its surface. I liked one of Grunberg's pronouncements about his Germanic personality: "Where's pleasure without tragedy?" That could also illuminate things, but the pleasure presented here is pretty sparse. [DVD]

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