Busty Substances

vlcsnap-1441192

“Whoah!” cried Fiona as the first of Monica Bellucci’s gigantic breasts heaved into view, followed swiftly by its twin. (There are two of them. I counted.) “That’s a firm tit,” she observed, impressed. “Do you think it’s still natural, or has she had work done on it?”

I expect she has. In fact, I expect whole armies of Italian artisans have laboured mightily on each of the Bellucci norks, swathing them in scaffolding and tarpaulin as they toiled for months, plastering and buttressing, shoring up and filling in. Re-pointing. Until the Great Domes could once again take their place of honour among the Seven Wonders of the Mammarial World, as numbers 5 and 6 (counting from left to right).

vlcsnap-1442551

The film which contained Bellucci’s bust, just about, was Bertrand Blier’s COMBIEN TU M’AIMES? or HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE ME?, a perfect title for a story in which, as David Byrne once sang, “Love and money are getting all mixed up.” Office worker Bernard Campan decides to hire himself a girlfriend, since he’s just won the lottery, and not unnaturally he selects Bellucci as the most promising prostitute in town, at a neon lit bar which comes with its own breathy sax score (other locations in the film are associated with different styles of music, the combination of Bellucci and Campan’s apartment producing mainly opera arias). Blier himself walks through silently as a client.

Blier generally likes to have multiple balls in the air, and constructs narrative switchbacks that flip through genres, in and out of reality, and leaven pleasure with deepest malaise. A promising plot complication with Campan’s best friend, a doctor who treats his weak heart, and seems drawn to Bellucci at the same time as he diagnoses her as a serious health hazard, is abruptly dispensed with when the doctor himself drops dead.

vlcsnap-1441899

Enter Gerard Depardieu, a Blier regular whom I suspect helps his old pal out by taking supporting roles to help Blier get his films made (BB enjoyed considerable success in the ’70s and ’80s but few of his films have screened outside France recently). Here, Depardieu is a vicious gangster with an attachment to Bellucci, and he doesn’t like the idea of Campan buying her services exclusively. Fortunately for Campan, Depardieu’s savagery is more of a plot point than an actuality — this may be the gentlest Blier film I’ve seen, and Big Gerard gradually fades from a figure of hulking menace to a more whimsical comedy relief.

There’s also the striking Farida Rahouadj as Campan’s neighbour, calling round to complain about the volume of Bellucci’s love-making, which leads to Fiona’s favourite scene, a furious argument between the two women over whose orgasm is more impressive and sincere.

vlcsnap-1442442

Blier has devised a weird structure, with a plot that needs to be kick-started every twenty minutes or so by the injection of fresh elements, and the ending, a big party, looks set to abandon narrative altogether in favour of throwaway jokes and music. But even this is deceptive — long forgotten plot threads come winding back in again (even if only to be dismissed once more), and a willingness to undercut reality keeps things lively. When Bellucci asks Campan what kind of office he works in, he says “I don’t know. Just an office.” And he’s right. When she asks him about his bum ticker, right at the end of the movie ~

“How’s your heart? I haven’t heard anything about it for a while.”

“It’s fine. You made it all better.”

About these ads

11 Responses to “Busty Substances”

  1. The wonderful boob effect was achieved by strapping the actors to the ceiling and turning the camera upside down. Bellucci’s hair was held in place with a bulldog clip whilst Campan’s was held in place by its absence. Ladies often lament the subtractive effect of gravity on their bodily appearance but this shot proves that it can be a splendid ally if they would only alter their positioning to suit its uncompromising nature

    Re the 3rd still: at first glance, I thought Depardieu was a magician releasing a white dove

  2. “We used to walk on all fours, and they hung down, vertically, but now we walk upright it causes this tremendous strain.” ~ Donal Donnelly in The Knack.

    At various points in the film Blier does theatrical lighting changes within the shot, some of which do indeed suggest a magic show. And the operatic accompaniment makes for a really splendid effect.

  3. A balcony you could do Shakespeare from.

  4. And a not-bad Blier, either. Tenue de Soiree is his best.

  5. i LOVE that movie – i first saw it on tv when i was young and it must’ve had quite an effect because whenever i think of depardieu, i think of bob!

  6. Tenue is outstanding, but I generally like all Blier’s work. His use of misogyny — he seems to use it consciously — upsets me sometimes. But he has a nifty way of cutting, and a fondness for absurd situations and strange meetings that’s quite endearing. And occasionally he serves up an amazing landscape as well.

  7. Misogynistic or not, I love Les Valseuses most of all – it’s the original bromance! Except it goes where today’s bromance fails to tread. The tragic fate of Patrick Dewaere adds a bit of a frisson too, and the ending is, I think, unmatchably great.

  8. I enjoyed Get out your Handkerchiefs, also with Depardieu and Dewaere, Les Acteurs, with everybody, and even Merci La Vie, which is somewhat overstuffed, but has fabulous things in it. Oh, and I adore Buffet Froid.

    Alas, I find Notre Histoire goes on far too long, even if it did relaunch Delon’s career.

    Still lined up to watch: Beau Pere, Un Deux Trois Soleil. Will write something about the rather startling Calmos soon.

  9. I should have reminded everybody but The Swan starring Grace Kelly and Van Dyke Parks is on Turner Classic Movies right this minute.

  10. Norks? That’s a new one on me. But I like it. Brings a smile to my face, it’s so fresh.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 388 other followers

%d bloggers like this: