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  Woman with Red Boots, The The Death Of Art
Year: 1974
Director: Juan Luis Buñuel
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Fernando Rey, Adalberto Maria Merli, Jacques Weber, José Sacristán, Emma Cohen, Laura Betti, Ángel Álvarez, Pilar Torres
Genre: Drama, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mr Perrot (Fernando Rey) is a wealthy businessman who has a preoccupation with art. Today he orders his valet and chauffeur to take him to visit an art gallery, and after a minute of viewing the paintings he faints and collapses on the floor. Coming round, he orders his valet to buy up all the artist's work in the gallery and storms out, but later in a cafe, he finds a new obsession. She is writer Françoise LeRoi (Catherine Deneuve), who needs cash but is reluctant to pen anything new. She goes up to Perrot and offers to flash for him if he will give her money - and with her magic powers, she does...

The Woman with Red Boots, or La Femme aux Bottes Rouges as it was originally known, was directed and partly scripted by Juan Luis Buñuel, who as you might have guessed was the son of famed surrealist Luis Buñuel. For that reason, this film is very much associated with his father, as if he was living in the shadow of him artistically, and while it's true that you could imagine the more seasoned filmmaker grappling with the weirdness the younger Buñuel had a different tack.

Unfortunately, it wasn't as provocative so any questions about art and the appreciation and decline thereof were rather muted by a simple tale of oneupmanship and gamesplaying. Françoise takes a fancy to a youngish magazine editor, Mark Villier (Adalberto Maria Merli) when she spots him on the street, but her attempts to get to know him are thwarted - or are they? They seem to exchange letters, much to the chagrin of Mark's wife Sophie (Emma Cohen) who thinks her husband is working up the courage to embark on an affair.

But how much does Perrot have to do with this? He likes to think of himself as a puppet master, and is bringing Mark and Françoise together, yet he has reckoned without her magical powers. No explanation for these talents is ever offered, we're simply meant to accept that she can psychically make anything she wants to happen, happen. Usually she is playful with this ability, such as making a muddy boot appear balanced on the head of the man she was talking to, but she can turn it to more significant results, as we see in the finale.

That said, the supernatural is deployed sparingly, so character is relied on for much of this. Eventually, after Sophie has been shot by Mark in a freak hunting accident (she was spying on him to see if he was having an affair yet and got in the way of a bullet), and he has lost his job with her family business because of it, he accepts the invitation to visit Perrot at his mansion in the country. And guess who is there as well? That's right, Françoise, who Perrot has persuaded to join him so she can write a book for him.

However, the businessman has implemented a scheme which is all to do with the suicides of artists he has been associated with and the death of art - will Françoise fall victim to this, or outwit him in the same way she plays three dimensional chess with him when not typing? The film is matter of fact about its strangeness, even pedestrian, and despite committed performances never really takes off and flies. Mark under interesting, but minor, and sad to say some way after the gamesplaying of the elder Buñuel; perhaps Juan would have been better off trying a western, something to distance himself from his father's oeuvre and distinguish himself in his own right. Music by Jean Louis Ducarme and Michael Ionesco.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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