In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb mv5bntnkzduyzdetzdljys00ymjmltljogutnjdkm2iyymywntg2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntazmty4mda . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 675 1000 al

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

With uniformly great performances throughout the cast and Lanthimos’ stunning eye for detail and composition, this is one of the most unforgettable films of the…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Mon Homme

  |  

“What I sell is true love,” says the heroine of Bertrand Blier's “Mon Homme.” “With me they hear the music.” She says her name is Marie (Anouk Grinberg) and she is the hooker of a john's dreams: “I should pay you,” she tells one client. As the film opens, we find her sitting outside a hotel (“This is where I spin my web”), explaining how much she enjoys prostitution. “Ever thought of being paid for it?” she asks a matron who is passing by. The matron has. In no time at all, Marie has talked her into turning her first trick.

Advertisement

Blier's films are often about men in the service of their sexual needs. “Too Beautiful for You” (1990) starred Gerard Depardieu as a man who leaves his elegant wife for the dowdy secretary who obsesses him. The Oscar winner “Get Out Your Handkerchief” (1977) starred Depardieu as a man who despairs of satisfying his wife. In “Mon Homme,” Blier in a sense has cast his usual male role with a woman: Marie calls the shots, satisfies herself, sleeps with whom she wants, and gets paid for it.

But her life is not perfect until one day she discovers a derelict sleeping near a garbage heap. She brings him home, feeds him (leftover veal stew; French refrigerators never contain old pizzas and doggie bags from the Chinese restaurant). Then they make love. Grinberg is awesome in suggesting her passion; the earth shakes because she's shaking it. There is a small detail that's just right: the way she bites his chin through his beard. Jeannot (Gerard Lanvin) is expert and enduring. She bathes him, shaves him and asks him to be her pimp and take all her money.

He: “What if you want money?” She: “I'll ask you for it.” He: “And if I refuse?” She: “Then you'll be a real pimp.” I wouldn't go so far as to say there are no hookers like this in Paris, but Blier may have found the only one.

I was distracted, during their lovemaking, by the thought that a homeless man, found on a garbage heap, would be aromatic. Shouldn't she have bathed him before sex? But a moment's thought reveals that Marie is not being entirely truthful about her needs: It is not so much that she loves sex and prostitution as that she's a masochist, as Jeannot intuits when he slaps her after she has given him stew, sex and what he concedes is a rather nice red wine. (“Like the smack?” She nods. Later, good fellow that he is, he instructs her on how to duck when she senses a slap on its way.) If Blier had been true to the logic of the story, he would have followed Marie's compulsions to their bitter end. Instead, he spins off into Jeannot's story, as the new pimp (who cleans up nicely) seduces a manicurist, names her Tangerine and tries to set her up in business. Tangerine, who thinks with her mouth open, does not have enough wit for the game, and soon Jeannot is being slapped around by the cops; in France, it is legal to be a prostitute but not to be a pimp.

The film drifts away into developments, fantasies, whimsy and conceit.

Its energy is lost. Blier has a strong central character and abandons her rather than accept the inescapable implications of her behavior. I do not argue that prostitutes cannot be happy (indeed, I have here a letter from a prostitute taking me to task for calling all the characters in “Boogie Nights” sad). But I argue that Marie is not happy, and that Blier's view of women and their sexuality is so narrow that he simply cannot accommodate that inconvenience.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

The Fall of Toxic Masculinity and the Rise of Feminine Consciousness

A special edition of Thumbnails detailing the recent sexual harassment cases in the entertainment and tech industries...

"Blade Runner" vs. "Blade Runner 2049"

A Great Movie is hidden somewhere within "Blade Runner" and "Blade Runner 2049."

Oscars Could Be Facing Dearth of Diversity Yet Again

A column on the lack of diversity in this year's potential Oscar nominees.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus