It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Despite its occasional charm, its several amusing moments and the touching scenes played by Jeanne Moreau, “Going Places” is a film of truly cynical decadence. It’s also, not incidentally, the most misogynistic movie I can remember; its hatred of women is palpable and embarrassing. There are laughs in it, yes, but how could anyone take this as a comedy?
Its story involved two loutish, brutal and unclean young men, Jean-Claude and Pierrot, who drift about France endlessly in a series of stolen cars. As a pastime, they terrorize old women, rape younger ones, beat up people whose looks they don’t like, rob, pillage and vandalize. And even at that, it’s not their actions that offend us; It’s the movie’s attitude toward them. I guess they’re supposed to come off as pathetic anti-heroes, driven to their cretinism out of terminal ennui.
The sources for a movie like this are in pretty clear view. There was “Easy Rider,” with its narcissistic, and masochistic victims of society. There were all the other road movies, concealing their lack of form and direction by making an episodic journey into an excuse for itself. There was Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou” (from which “Going Places” probably borrowed the name of one of its characters), in which Jean-Paul Belmondo affected a number of postures and personalities inspired by the movies.
These materials were shaped by Bertrand Blier into a novel that caused something of a scandal in France last year; now he has directed them into a movie. And the best you can say of it is that Blier hasn’t been merely imitative. No, he’s added something of his own: a sensibility that seems truly unpleasant and sadistic. I came away from “Going Places” feeling that I’d spent two hours in the company of a filmmaker I would never want to meet.