Blu-ray slight return: ‘Going Places’

“Going Places” takes the viewer to amazing places. The French title  “Les valseuses” literally translates as testicles.

This French film remains as stunning as it ever was. In every sense the story is as ugly as it was upon its original release. A new 4K restoration includes the film’s trailer and a commentary tract by scholar Richard Pena.

I had first seen this film at the Rice Media Center in the late ‘70s and distinctly remember going to see it a second time at the local Alliance Francaise de Houston, where it was shown via a portable 16mm projector.

The 1975 movie film made Gérard Depardieu a star, and boosted the careers of Miou Miou and Patrick Dewaere, as well as director Betrand Blier who would win an Oscar for Best Foreign Film for “Get Out Your Handkerchiefs” two years later. Isabelle Hupert has one of her early roles before she became a star in her own right.

Blier, whose father was acclaimed actor Bernard Blier, specialized in films revolving around controversial subjects. Essentially “Going Places” examines masculine toxicity with sardonic glances.

A couple of scoundrels wander around France harassing women and stealing cars. Despite their lowlife manner they have some likable traits. In a surprising early scene Dewaere gets shot, nicking one of his testicles, thus the French title.

It’s not long after that despite their heterosexual orientation Depardieu takes Dewaere up brokeback mountain.

Some critics have tried to take down a current film like “Blonde” because of too much nudity but it doesn’t compare to the casual full frontal nakedness of both sexes that dominates many scenes in “Going Places.”

The two miscreants are constantly on the make and have their comeuppance when they pick up a women just released from prison (Jeanne Moreau totally stealing the film for a reel) only to have her fuck them and then commit suicide by shooting herself in her vagina. It’s a heavy scene; it was heavy in the ’70s and remains heavy now. 

Note that the end of the film, a car entering a dark tunnel, was used by Richard Linklater at the end of “Dazed and Confused” although with a different meaning.

Earlier in the film the two scoundrels have stolen a car and sawn down the axel hoping that when the owner retrieves his vehicle it will fall apart on the road. Their own hubris blinds them to the fact that they’ve stolen the same car from its new owner and they have literally created their own path of destruction.

Whatever wisdom the prickly pair might have gleamed throughout their travels it’s too little too late.

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