Too Beautiful For You (1989)

“Gorgeous women create chaos.”

Too Beautiful For You–a Bertrand Blier film–is the story of an affair between a middle-aged businessman, Bernard (Gerard Depardieu) and his employee. All of Bernard’s male friends envy the fact that he has a beautiful society wife, Florence (Carole Bouquet). One look at his wife, and they say “Bernard’s a lucky stiff.” One day, Colette (Josiane Balasko), the new office temp, arrives in Bernard’s office. She’s plump and “a bit of a slob,” however, there’s instant chemistry between her and Bernard. Within a matter of days, Bernard is embroiled in a passionate affair with Colette.

The film explores some interesting ideas about adultery and love triangles. For example, why is Bernard attracted to Colette? Florence appears, on the surface at least, to be the sort of woman every man would select–while Colette is rather average. When Florence suspects her husband is having an affair, she stomps down to the office to take a look at the new temp, and when she sets eyes on dumpy Colette, she is relieved. Of course, every woman thinks her adulterous husband is having an affair with a woman who is more attractive, but what happens when the “other woman” is much less attractive?

There’s some clever photography–for example, one scene is shot of Bernard and his wife with the camera placed in Colette’s office looking through the glass divider. Not only do we see the husband and wife interact as Colette is seeing them, but we also see Colette’s reflection in the glass as she stares at the couple and tries to analyze the competition.

The film, however, is completely ruined by its ever-increasing reliance on surrealism. At first, the surreal scenes are quite acceptable–for example, there’s a great surreal scene when Colette strolls through a train station and imagines she’s the focus of ever man’s desire. However, the surreal scenes then begin to eat the plot, and soon, it’s unclear what is plot, and what is fantasy. The scene when Florence is the dowdy housefrau is particularly ludicrous. While raising some intriguing questions, the film fails to speculate about answers, and instead, we are subject to a surreal drift towards pretentious absurdity, and this is highly unfortunate.

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Filed under France, Gerard Depardieu

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