Buffet Froid (1979)

“You look as if you had funny ideas.”

Buffet Froid  is a macabre black comedy that revolves around the nightmarish adventures of Alphonse Tram (Gerard Depardieu). The film begins with Alphonse wandering into a brightly lit but deserted subway station. When he stumbles on a late night traveler, Alphonse begins to pester him, obviously making a complete nuisance of himself. The stranger tries to move away, but Alphonse follows. And then the two men discuss murder ….

Alphonse forms a strange alliance with the pessimistic Inspecteur Morvandieu (director Bernard Blier) who is the only other resident in his otherwise deserted high-rise. But then a nervous serial killer (Jean Carmet) turns up, and the corpses and the murders begin to mount. The three men–Alphonse, Inspecteur Morvandieu, and the serial killer form an uneasy alliance. It would be stretching the situation to say they’re friends. It’s more accurate to say that they hang out together, drink with one another, feed off of each other’s suspicions and paranoia, and betray each other every chance they get.

The structure of Buffet Froid  is a facsimile of a nightmare–in this case Alphonse’s nightmare, and he lives in a murder-obsessed world. Just as in a nightmare, the film contains instances of bizarre non-logic, moments of inability to take action, the sensation of entering a room full of people who turn to stare, and an emphasis on small details–such as patterns on the floor and wallpaper. The characters in the film accept each bizarre situation as perfectly normal–it’s merely the next stage of the surreal existence they dwell in. It’s impossible to predict exactly who will like this absurdist film–but if you liked Neighbors or Menage, for example, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Buffet Froid. DVD extras include filmography, film trivia, and production notes. In French with English subtitles. From director Bertrand Blier.

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Filed under Comedy, France, Gerard Depardieu

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