HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Mighty Wind, A
Man at the Top
Guru the Mad Monk
Jezebel
Monos
Life at the Top
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
   
 
Newest Articles
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
   
 
  Moon In the Gutter, The Gutter WenchBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Nastassja Kinski, Victoria Abril, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Dominique Pinon, Bertice Reading
Genre: Drama, Sex, Romance, Weirdo
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: French cinema has perhaps received the most abuse from American critics, who seem to approach French cinema with a certain prejudice. According to these critics, French films are either "talky" or they're "pretentious," and always "indulgent." Sometimes the criticism is unfair and other times is rightfully earned as in filmmaker’s Jean-Jacques Beineix's The Moon In the Gutter (1983), a stylish but downbeat melodrama in which the adjectives “delirious” and “pretentious” sum up the movie correctly.

Beineix, first film, the 1981 hit Diva, was criticized for being just an empty exercise in style. But in Diva, the showy style was held together by a series of intriguing characters we cared for. Unfortunately, these intriguing characters are completely missing in The Moon of the Gutter. The story is lifted from pulp/noir writer David Goodis’ novel of the same title, which was originally set on the docksides of Philadelphia, transferred in Beneix's film to an undesignated Marseille, with all of the novelist's prototypical characters intact; Loretta (Nastassja Kinski), the angelic and carnally unattainable borgeoise, Bella (Victoria Abril) the triumphantly lusty poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks and Gerard Delmas (Gérard Depardieu) a dock worker who becomes an emotional wreck following the rape and murder of his sister . As the relationships with his girlfriend Bella, his drunken brother, and his depressive father begin to deteriorate, Gerard returns time and again to the scene of his sister's murder, ostensibly seeking her killer. Loretta enters the picture and becomes emotionally involved with Gerard, thus is formed the basis for a plot, such as it may be, yet style is assumed to be victor over substance.

The Moon in the Gutter is visually stunning. It was filmed in elaborate studio sets, mostly lighted by arcs and photofloods, with an elegiac music score by Gabriel Yared, in which the camera movement and choreographed gestures by the actors (call it Stand and Pose Method Acting) were sometimes used as a replacement for real character motivation or plot logic. The initial rape/murder is filmed and edited in a very Hitchcocknian style climaxing with the haunting image of the moon reflected in the wet gutter, so elegant that the moon looks like it belongs there. Even if the movie does not succeed on an emotional level the moonlit-and-bloodstained poetry of Beineix's images and mise-en-scène fills in for some of the logic gaps. At times, Beneix succeeds in creating a dream world where you can expect anything in the next moment, good or bad. But the overall effect of 2 plus hours of haunting images, pretentious dialogue and a poor excuse of a plot that even cheats at providing any form of resolution results in an overlong numbing experience as opposed to the intellectual entertainment intended.

Beineix style may be best described as Rococo-like. His linear narrative plays second fiddle to pop culture references, film myth icons and cliché stereotypes in an attempt to make the surreal dream like logic of the story more accessible to audiences. Beineix uses allegory, dark romanticism, surrealist landscapes, and clean aesthetics - each frame carefully planned, populated with symbols resulting in a virtual dialogue of images, both experimental while at the same time epic.

Unfortunately, ideas and images cannot alone make good drama. The best dramas have always come as a result from a well-defined emotional conflict in the storyline. Emotional conflict in drama results from well-drawn characters that audiences can identify with and relate to. In The Moon In the Gutter the characters are not part of anything resembling reality. The cast looks the part and dresses the part but they don’t speak the part. They don't act or remotely sound like humans. Beneix gives us the look and feel of drama without the emotions or humanity to make a connection. Instead of street slang , Beneix oppressed characters utter poetry and endless existentialist speeches that add up to a bunch of nothing. While watching The Moon In The Gutter I kept being reminded of Alan Resnais’ 1961 film L'Année dernière à Marienbad, a film that was also flooded by spectacular imagery and pointless and pretentious dialogue disguised as serious existentialist philosophy with lines such as “ Empty salons. Corridors. Salons. Doors. Doors. Salons. Empty chairs, deep armchairs, thick carpets. Heavy hangings. Stairs, steps. Steps, one after the other. Glass objects, objects still intact, empty glasses. A glass that falls, three, two, one, zero. Glass partition, letters drama.” The Moon In the Gutter has several soliloquies of existentialist woe that sound just like that.

The cast-particularly Kinski and Abril really rise above the film style and Beneix provides both actresses fantastic entrances: Kinski’s arrival to the café is hauntingly memorable and Abril’s scene on a swing is one of the most erotically charged sequences ever. Beneix has obviously based Depardieu’s character on photos of Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, and in a way it works due to Depardieu’s own kind of animal magnetism. Also worth mentioning is Philadelphia born actress Bertice Reading as Lola who spoke no French and had to learn her dialog phonetically for this film. She earns a few well needed laughs with her intense physicality and delivery, funny wig, spectacular chocolate skin and piercing blue eyes, while torturing Gerard’s father. Unfortunately the heavy handed script doesn’t give much opportunity to these performers to truly shine.

The Moon in the Gutter may be indulgent and pretentious, but it's never banal or routine, it received uneven reviews on its initial release and won a French Cesar Award for its production design.

The film is only available in pan and scan with English subtitles on VHS format (125 minutes) and also
on a limited all Region DVD uncut 136 minutes, 80% widescreen in French with English subtitles at :

http://www.ioffer.com/i/15065935

aka. La Lune dans le caniveau
Reviewer: Pablo Vargas

 

This review has been viewed 6216 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: