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I hated this film.

It’s just an extended apology for male violence, and would be so even if you took out all the rape. Yes, let’s be clear, Paul rapes Jeanne multiple times, not just in the scene with the butter. But even if we had removed the rape, Paul is a man who uses force to get what he wants, uses his body, and a few scenes of him crying doesn’t redeem him.

There are plenty of films with unredeemed, nasty characters in it, even plenty of films with rape in them, that are able to be stomached, sometimes even liked, because of how they treat the topic. I’m not for cinema that pretends rape doesn’t exist or that men never use force to take what they desire. But I can’t happily sit through an apology for it. Yes, sure, Paul is tortured, but that doesn’t excuse him, or the film that tries to make him its antihero. You can feel it, that Bertolucci loved this character. Not me.

Besides that: Brando speaking French is pure horror. Seventies faux-jazz saxophone. Mostly bad dialogue. And the playful side story of Jeanne’s cineaste fiancé, well it just reminds me of Godard playing with the cinema industry, but it’s not as good. There are some beautiful shots. Bertolucci should have stuck to that. And maybe made Maria Schneider all the film was really about. Maria Schneider walking through Paris, that would have been wonderful. But that’s not what we got. We got saxophone, rape, and a bullshit excuse for a resolution.

On last summary: fake French from Brando; fake jazz saxophone; fake arthouse cinema; fake pornography; real rape. I can’t wait to see another film, even a bad one, to get Last Tango in Paris.

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