Film Review : LAST TANGO IN PARIS * * * *
Last Tango In Paris(1973)
CAST Marlon Brando, Maria Scneider, Massimo Girotta, Jeanne-Pierre Leaud
DIRECTOR Bernardo Bertolucci
Benrardo Bertolucci's "Last Tango In Paris" is a study of the breaking point of man. How we deal with certain tragedies and how we struggle with sanity.
Marlon Brando plays Paul, a middle aged man in the middle of an extroardinary ordeal. He has gone to Paris to deal with his wifes suicide. On top of that he discovers she was cheating on him with another man (Girotta). He vents his frustration out on a young girl named Jeanne, played wonderfully by Maria Schneider.He engages himself in an unorthodox sexual relationship with the girl that has rules. No names and no talking about the past. Jeanne becomes frustrated with the conditions of the relationship and pressures Paul in to slowly talking about his past. Every situation in the film is handled carefully, like Pauls state of mind, it is frail and needs care and nurturing.
Brando's performance as Paul is the strongest acting performance I have ever seen. Through his face you can see the discipline of holding back his emotion. And when he does let it out its realistic and convincing. Some of the most emotional scenes are confined and left for us to admire and visualize. There is a scene in which Paul is speaking to his dead wife, which stands out as one of the greatest scenes in film. It is moving and understandable given his frame of mind and the sheer depth of his pain.
Last Tango In Paris was rated X when originally released, and deservedly so. Today the strong sex scenes still seem to be a little much even for todays standards. But they are required in order to show us the real depth of Paul's emotions. He uses sex as a release for his pain, and when that isn't enough he pours himself out in the dead wife scene, something he knew he would have to do if he wanted to find closure for this part of his life.
The direction by Bertolucci is masterful and the script is deep and involving, not holding out for surprise, but reaching deep for the soul to show what is really within us all.