Going Places (1974)

“If we don’t know where to go, why not stop awhile?”

Going Places Poster

Synopsis:
A pair of petty criminals (Gerard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere) travel aimlessly across France, stealing cars and pursuing women.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary correctly notes that “for about the first half-hour” of this “offbeat” black comedy by Bertrand Blier (based on his own novel), the lead characters’ “amoral behavior, their vulgarity, and their obnoxious treatment of women will wear on your patience”, and “you’ll find it hard not to hate a film that would have them as its heroes”. However, I disagree with his assertion that “once you realize that neither of the characters is vicious and that both are vulnerable, the film becomes more tolerable.” While I’m a fan of Blier’s later anarchic comedies (such as Femmes Fatales and Menage) — in which the male leads expose their vulnerabilities and neuroses to humorous effect — the blatant misogyny of Depardieu’s Jean-Claude and Dewaere’s Pierrot in this film is simply too much to stomach.

Peary defends their actions by noting that “in the long run the two men don’t do any harm to the women they half-seduce, half force sex upon”, and that “the women end up more satisfied than they are” — but this doesn’t make it any easier to watch our whiny, manipulative protagonists accosting a distressed woman (Dominique Davray) while snatching her purse, terrorizing a breast-feeding woman (Brigitte Fossey) on an otherwise empty train, or verbally and physically abusing a naive young beauty shop employee (Miou-Miou) — not to mention their continuous tendency to steal cars out from under the noses of their owners (a “running joke” which really isn’t funny at all). One vignette near the middle of the film — in which our “heroes” decide to seduce a middle-aged ex-convict (Jeanne Moreau) as she leaves prison — remains intriguing enough to recommend, given that Jean-Claude and Pierrot finally tap into their gentler natures; but this isn’t enough to redeem the film as a whole. Young Blier would clearly need to get a more mature grip on his thematic concerns before his cinematic brilliance could emerge.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Miou Miou as Marie-Ange (she makes the best of a pitiable role)
    Going Places Miou Miou
  • Jeanne Moreau as Jeanne
    Going Places Moreau

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a look for its historical importance as Blier’s breakthrough film.

Links:

One Response to “Going Places (1974)”

  1. First viewing. In full agreement with the assessment so, more or less, enough said.

    The only thing I can really add is that the film appears to spring from the assumption that its audience is anarchic in its collective mind. So it allows them to watch a series of events rooted in the premise of ‘taking it because it’s there and because you want to take for the hell of it’. It’s largely a film about being released from inhibition – which the audience is allowed to interpret, I suppose, in its own way and translate it for its own collective life.

    Still, it’s a barrage of extremes on display – a Blier signature; but not as satisfying as much of his other work. Much of it is too slow (in spite of its pacing) and indulgent. The average ff may very well lose interest as patience is tried.

    Which is why I don’t consider it a must. Certainly other Blier films are ones to catch (including his rather charming 2007 film, ‘How Much Do You Love Me?’).

    I don’t know that I consider the film at all misogynistic. I don’t think the Depardieu and Dewaere characters hate women at all. They are just solidly adolescent boys in their behavior – which, I suppose, makes them the object of (cockeyed and under-realized) attack. And which also gives the film its original French title of ‘The Testicles’.

    The film does have some stunning camerawork. And, yes, the Moreau sequence is the best – the director clearly is in awe of the actress and shows her off to stunning and challenging effect.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.