Les valseuses | Going Places [1974]

8/10 | 30.Oct.12
Les valseuses | Going Places

DIRECTOR: Bertrand Blier | WRITERS: Bertrand Blier, Philippe Dumarçay | CAST: Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere, Miou-Miou, Brigitte Fossey, Jeanne Moreau, Isabelle Hupert | France

I’m finding it difficult to write a review of Going Places. I was 19 or 20 when I first saw it, not much younger than the protagonists Jean-Claude (Gérard Depardieu) and Pierrot (Patrick Dewaere), in fact, who are 25 and 23 respectively, and I thought it was a pretty good movie even though I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Seeing it again for the first time in almost 40 years was a curious experience: what I remembered — and I remembered lots of it, as it turned out — was pretty accurate but my reaction today is completely different. I loved it. What bothered me then is what I took to be the protagonists’ thuggishness, their crudity, their relentless heterosexual braggadocio, and I guess I felt pity or contempt or both for the women they prey on. I remember thinking then that if I had come into contact with these people in real life all I’d want to do is to get as far away from them as possible. But from this remove in time my feelings are less harsh, which is not to say indulgent — I still wouldn’t want to spend time with any of these characters. Oh, let me just refer you to Fernando F. Croce’s review of the movie: he captures my feelings exactly. The acting is uniformly terrific, but Jeanne Moreau is exceptionally great and Isabelle Huppert’s small part as a bored teenaged bourgeoise desperate to break free rightly made her a star. A word about the title. I can’t decide whether I like the English title Going Places. Les valseuses literally means “the waltzers”, but it’s slang for “balls” as in testicles. I’ve seen the suggestion that a more accurate English translation of the title would be The Loafers, but I don’t know. I think I like the ambiguity of “going places”: Jean-Claude and Pierrot are in fact going places, but the problem is they just have no destination.

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