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  Get Out Your Handkerchiefs Summer The First TimeBuy this film here.
Year: 1977
Director: Bertrand Blier
Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere, Carole Laure, Michel Serrault, Eléonore Hirt, Jean Rougerie, Sylvie Joly, Riton Liebman, Liliane Rovère, Michel Beaune, Roger Riffard, André Thorent, André Lacombe, David Gabison, Gilberte Géniat
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Raoul (Gérard Depardieu) has taken his wife Solange (Carole Laure) out to lunch, but there are problems in their marriage that sees Raoul finally reach the end of his tether. As Solange miserably eats her meal, her husband suggests that the only way to cheer her up is for her to take a lover, but she remains unmoved. Raoul has noticed a man a a table behind them stealing glances at his wife, so he goes over to him and asks him to seduce her; the man, Stéphane (Patrick Dewaere), is reluctant, but after some persuasion ventures to sit beside her and Raoul leaves the restaurant. However, outside he admits to a passerby what he has done and that he is unsure he's made the right decision. By the way Solange has just burst into tears, it's difficult to tell...

Writer and director Bertrand Blier was known for his contentious subjects, and Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Préparez vos Mouchoirs was its orginal title) was no exception, only this being the nineteen-seventies it was made in, naturally it won the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 1978 Oscar Ceremony - you can comfortably say that such a thing would be unlikely to happen today. As for that story, it reteamed the stars of Blier's Les Valsueses and as with that film, their double act made the whole thing worthwhile, as with their genuine rapport it was a pity they didn't make more films together.

At first Raoul seems to have been driven insane by his love of Solange, so much so that he's willing to take drastic measures to make her happy, finding lovers for her being one of them. As far as it's possible to work out, Solange is suffering from depression and frequently faints dead away, as Stéphane witnesses when he goes back to the couple's apartment on Raoul's insistence. He loses his temper and Stéphane is ordered out, but the next day Raoul has tracked him down to his school teacher's job and is begging him through a chain link fence to accompany him to see Solange again.

Solange is an enigmatic character, as much as she has any character, compliantly going along with her husband's ideas but apparently more interested in knitting (sometimes in the nude). Is she despondent about not being able to have children with her husband? Stéphane has a go and can't make her pregnant either, even when she moves in with him - now both men are obsessed with her. Blier's narrative has as a tendency to ramble, and there are many patches where, for a comedy, there are very few laughs, but some bits, such as the conversation about what a great guy Mozart was, are quite charming (there's a sad prophecy about the way Stéphane talks about Mozart's death at 35, the age at which Dewaere would commit suicide).

But more than charm, Blier relies on bad taste. There is gentle humour, for example the way every male who falls under Solange's spell ends up wearing one of her woolly jumpers, but the most controversial aspect of Get Out Your Handkerchiefs is the manner in which she finds contentment. In a supposed send up of all those angst ridden, middle class melodramas, Solange makes a connection when she goes on holiday with Raoul to the summer camp that Stéphane has taken his class to. Out of all the boys there, one thirteen-year-old stands out: Christian (Riton Liebman), a budding intellectual with a self-proclaimed sky high I.Q. who is bullied by the others. Although nothing is sexually explicit, Solange and Christian fall in love, somewhat ludicrously, and Raoul and Stéphane do all they can to ensure the relationship lasts. The butt of the joke seems to be the men, who have their lives wrecked by the blank Solange. Is that funny? There may be about four of five laugh out loud moments, but mostly it's simply, impenetrably odd. Music by Georges Delerue.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Bertrand Blier  (1939 - )

French writer-director who rarely shies away from controversy. The son of actor Bernard Blier, who also appeared in his films, he graduated from documentaries to features and seized international attention with extreme comedy Les Valseuses. Blier then won an Oscar for Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Preparez vos Mouchoirs), and carried on his idiosyncratically humorous style with Buffet Froid, Beau-Pere, Tenue de Soiree and Trop Belle Pour Toi. Since 1991's Merci la Vie he hasn't had much distribution outside of France, but continues to work, still finding roles for Gerard Depardieu.

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