Last Tango in Paris (1972)


David: Fifty Shades of Grey meets The Wrestler – or is it King Kong? A 48 year old Marlon Brando roams Paris like a rogue silverback. Apparently mourning the recent and mysterious suicide of his wife, he’s roughing up everyone and everything in his path. So indiscriminate and pointless are his outbursts of fury that he evokes his own incarnation as Johnny in the The Wild One. He’s rebelling against whatever you’ve got. Brando’s formidable yet pathetically unstrategic rampage is sweetened only by interludes of semi-consensual sex with ingenue Maria Schneider. The anonymity of their tryst is retained as long as possible, the bare rented apartment where they meet a cocoon against a detritus-ridden world and Brando’s broken life. The infamous butter scene is a minor scandal and not even the final stage of debasement Brando’s character needs to bring Schneider’s to before deciding she has the right stuff and might be his ticket out of existential hell.

Jules: If films are the means by which we collectively countenance the uncomfortable truths of what we are, and how that seems to override who we are, this film is both trauma and therapy. What is the relationship between desire, word, and action, and our collective sense of right and wrong? Last Tango ponders these questions (among others) and – crucially – acts upon them, in ways that sometimes seem lost to today’s cinema.

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