Menage (1986)

 “I have a tattoo that changes size.”

Gerard Depardieu has the one of the most bizarre roles of his long film career in the French film Menage from director Bernard Blier. When the film begins, Monique (Miou Miou) is in a nightclub fighting bitterly with her passive, downtrodden husband, Antoine (Michel Blanc). Along comes a well-dressed stranger named Bob (Gerard Depardieu). He jumps into their argument and proceeds to befriend them with a large wad of cash. Bob persuades Monique and Antoine to come out and have some fun, so they set off together for the evening. Bob, however, is a burglar, and his idea of fun is breaking into the houses of the very rich, very jaded, and very bored.

Antoine, at first, objects to the burglaries, but he soon gives in to Monique’s pleas for material comforts. As they commit burglaries, Antoine’s morality is slowly eroded away, and several times, he turns to Monique for moral salvation, but since she’s also vacuous and adrift, they both sink further into Bob’s demented world. Anyone with a grain of sense would run from Bob, but both Monique and Antoine are soon pulled down by Bob’s domineering personality and seem mesmerized by his animal energy. A bizarre–partly psychological–love triangle begins to emerge–with Monique desiring Bob, and Bob desiring Antoine, and Antoine desiring Monique.

Menage is described as a comedy, and some parts are extremely funny, but more than anything else, it’s overwhelming and gloriously bizarre. Gerard Depardieu throws himself into the role of Bob with obvious relish–parading around naked and at other times wearing skimpy animal print bikini undies while he stalks his prey–the diminutive, dour Antoine. Bob is a totally amoral seducer and master manipulator, but is his ultimate goal really sexual? Or is he more interested in stripping away objections and morality until he finally manipulates people into acts they never deemed possible. If you like your French films bold, bizarre, demented, and you don’t object to strong sexual content, then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Menage. In French with English subtitles.

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Filed under Comedy, France, Gerard Depardieu

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