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France, 1992, 139 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: UK, USA
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Romance, Thriller
Program: Contemporary World CinemaLanguage: English, French English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Roman Polanski
Producer: Roman PolanskiEditor: Herve De LuzeScreenwriter: Roman Polanski, Gerard Brach, John BrownjohnCinematographer: Tonino Delli ColliPrincipal Cast: Peter Coyote, Emmanuelle Seigner, Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas
Bitter Moon novelist Pascal Bruckner will speak about his latest work, The Paradox of Love, at The Tattered Cover prior to the screening of Roman Polanski's film adaptation of his book at the Denver FilmCenter.
Hugh Grant plays a mild-mannered (read “repressed”) Brit named Nigel who’s celebrating his second honeymoon aboard a Mediterranean cruise ship with his proper, cold-fish wife, Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas). Nigel is lured into an uncomfortable pairing with Oscar (Peter Coyote, in an in-your-face performance), a wheelchair-bound American filled with anger and self-hatred. Oscar buttonholes him into listening to the long tale of his life, including the injury that put him in the chair, and his marriage to Mimi, a man-eating sex goddess (played with unblinking eroticism by Polanski’s own spouse, Emmanuelle Seigner). Memories are narrated with flashbacks of kinky sexual encounters that grow in their intensity until it becomes clear that Oscar’s disability has something to do with his wife’s taste for S&M. Oscar suggests that he wants Nigel to fulfill the husbandly duties he’s no longer up to and, despite the sensational cautionary tale, it’s a trap Nigel can’t resist. He makes excuses to Fiona so he can spend more time with Oscar, the puppeteer who may or may not bring Nigel and Mimi together—and maybe not for the purposes Nigel first believed.
Lurid to the point of being campy, this vintage Polanski adventure explores games, sex, and power with a twisted sexuality that makes the movie as forceful and riveting as Mimi herself.
- VAL MOSES
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