Sog.: Marco Ferreri. Scen.: Marco Ferreri, Rafael Azcona. F.: Mario Vulpiani. M.: Amedeo Salfa, Claudine Merlin, Gina Pignier. Scgf.: Michel de Broin. Mus.: Philippe Sarde. Int.: Marcello Mastroianni (Marcello), Ugo Tognazzi (Ugo Baldazzi), Michel Piccoli (Michel), Philippe Noiret (Philippe), Andréa Ferréol (Andréa), Monique Chaumette (Madelaine), Florence Giorgetti (Anne), Rita Scherrer (Anulka), Solange Blondeau (Danielle), Michèle Alexandre (Nicole), Cordelia Piccoli (Barbara). Prod.: Edmondo Amati, Jean-Pierre Rassam, Vincent Malle, Alain Coiffier per Capitolina Produzioni Cinematografiche, Mara Films, Film 66. DCP 4K. Col.
These enigmatic portraits of four average upper-middle class people in the 1970s (a magistrate and a choreographer, both French, a pilot and a restaurant owner, both Italian) are marvellous. The scarlet and blood red of the French ‘interiors’ and the deep, hazy blue-grey of the exteriors – where comfort blurs into infinite sadness, and traditional wealth is the colour of lead – coagulate around the characters’ wild flesh, delineating an unfathomable inner decision. The past is distilled (in cinema the colour of a wall, the shimmer of a knife, the form of an immobile airplane wing can have all the complexity of a Proustian phrase, in a single silent expressive ‘sign’); the present is examined in a series of gestures that convey a strange, almost possessed determination and an a priori calm ‘a là De Sade’: but nothing more.
Captured in their everyday gestures prior to a weekend getaway, gestures made enigmatic by their excessiveness – this is how these characters remain in our hearts: ironic priests of a ritual (behind a guise of humour and heavy corporality, not lacking in bourgeois vulgarity, they hide an obscure fanaticism, who knows how acquired and forever fixated).
This ritual – in which everyday life, realistic and therefore comic, finds an ambiguously sublime form – will reappear only occasionally throughout the actual story: especially in the Pantagruelian culinary moments (‘reduced’ by a De Sade-like apriorism, which imbues their exceptional nature with a kind of illuministic ‘naturalness’, that is monstrously rational and tends to minimise the ‘mystery’).
The four protagonists portrayed in the preface, in fact, have decided to kill themselves by a limitless consumption of lavish food. This is what explains the enigmatic nature of their first depiction, in a pure existential moment of their everyday existence. This is the core or the narrative principle of the film.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Le ambigue forme della ritualità narrativa, “Cinema Nuovo”, n. 231, September-October 1974