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Bitter Moon

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Bitter Moon

Starring: Peter Coyote, Emmanuelle Seigner
Director: Roman Polanski
Rated: R
RunTime: 139 Minutes
Release Date: April 1994
Genres: Drama, Erotica, Romance


*Also starring: Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, Victor Banerjee, Sophie Patel



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Dragan Antulov review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Dragan Antulov
3 stars out of 4

In 1992 French writer Pascal Bruckner visited Croatia in order to promote his novel LUNES DE FIEL. The government media gave a massive hype to this event, although it had less to do with Bruckner's work as a writer and more to do with his vocal advocacy for the cause of Croatian independence among the ranks of French and European intelligentsia. Some Croatian critics nevertheless tried to justify the hype by praising the novel as a perfect example of new "post-ideological" literature, which should deal less with fashionable leftist subjects and more with "simple love stories". The author of this review admits that he haven't read the novel but the idea of BITTER MOON being a "simple love story" looks totally alien to him, at least if the 1992 screen version, directed by Roman Polanski, was faithful adaptation of the novel.

The plot of this film is set on a cruise ship in Mediterranean. British couple Fiona (played by Kristin Scott-Thomas) and Nigel Dobson (played by Hugh Grant) are travelling to India via Istanbul in hope that the exotic destination would revamp their stiff and boring relationship. There they meet another couple that seem to have another set of problems - wheelchair-bound American writer Oscar (played by Peter Coyote) and his beautiful French wife Mimi (played by Emanuelle Seigner). Nigel's natural curiosity about this couple is more than satisfied when Oscar starts telling him the story of his long and bizarre relationship with Mimi, not leaving even the most intimate and embarrassing details. Nigel is shocked by this series of discoveries and starts to wonder what kind of perverse game Oscar plays with him, but in the same time he can't get enough of it, partially because he is getting more and more attracted to Mimi.

BITTER MOON is anything but "simple" love story, but it is a nevertheless a love story, and it proves that love stories can be effective even if the protagonists are dislikeable, and the events on the screen mostly revolting or depressing. Credit for this should be given to Bruckner, but also to director Roman Polanski, director who is able to turn even the most unpleasant content into something watchable. Polanski's misanthropy and black humour were perfect for the story that chronicles the evolution of man-woman relationship from pure love to pure hatred and takes almost pornographic approach to the extremes in which participants of such relationships can show cruelty towards each other. Such approach required a lot of effort from the actors, and Polanski was lucky to have a good cast by his side. The best acting jobe is done by Peter Coyote, American character actor who rarely had an opportunity to play romantic leads, mostly due to his rather unglamourous looks. His partner and Polanski's wife Emanuelle Seigner employs much of her sexappeal and dancing ability, thus creating few pleasant moments in this generally depressing film. Grant and Scott-Thomas are reliable in their roles of stiff-upper-lip Britons, and their act, so overused in romantic comedies, seems refreshing in the film of completely different nature. Unfortunately, BITTER MOON has its share of problems. For example, the most interesting scenes are those in flashback (and one of them might interest historians of on-line communications since it features French Minitel system), while those on cruise ship are dull, slow and sometimes completely unnecessary. Uninspiring musical score by Vangelis also makes a rather disappointing impression. The finale of the film is non-cathartic and not exactly convincing. However, despite that, whether you like or whether you loathe what you have seen in BITTER MOON, this film will probably leave lasting impression.

Copyright 2001 Dragan Antulov

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