HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
Extraction
Overlanders, The
Can You Keep a Secret?
Women in Revolt
Astronaut
Peanut Butter Falcon, The
Ip Man 4: The Finale
Card, The
Bloodshot
Intruder, The
   
 
Newest Articles
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
   
 
  Moon In the Gutter, The Gutter Wench
Year: 1983
Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Nastassja Kinski, Victoria Abril, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Dominique Pinon, Bertice Reading
Genre: Drama, Sex, Romance, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
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 6310 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
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: