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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CESAR & ROSALIE (1972)

It's Yves Montand who makes this menage à trois story ‘pop.’ He plays a self-made millionaire who has be #1 at all he tries: at business, at a party, at family gatherings, at being a guy’s guy at his weekly poker game (the smoke is positively alarming in this scene) and especially at being a great & caring lover to his beautiful young mistress Romy Schneider. But his edifice comes crumbling down when Sami Frey, a youthful former lover of Schneider, returns to the scene. Montand can’t seem to stop his inner Stanley Kowalski from crashing through the sophisticated surface he’s cultivated. And director Claude Sautet does a fabulous job not only letting him show himself at his worst, but in showing how both Schneider & Frey are alternately appalled and attracted by his violent fits & grand gestures of apology. The sexual politics of the time dates some things (Schneider makes an awful lot of coffee for the boys), but the story arc holds up beautifully. By the end of the film, these three seem ready to tackle a French edition of DESIGN FOR LIVING, gay sub-text and all. Too bad the currently available DVD (WellSpring) is such a smeary looking transfer, but it will serve till something better shows up.

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