A scathingly surreal and hilarious black comedy
Wayne | England | 08/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched the Buffet Froid DVD recently. It's a superbly surreal black comedy from Bertrand Blier. It won a Cesar award for the screenplay. Gerard Depardieu plays an unemployed guy named Alphonse Tram, who may or may not have killed a stranger in the subway. He lives with his wife in a strange and stylish, almost empty high-rise apartment block. That is until she is killed by a misogynist murderer who is afraid of the dark. He knocks on Alphonse's door and announces this to him after her death; Alphonse then immediately makes him a meal and chats amiably with him.The other main character is an odd police chief inspector (played by the director's father). Alphonse tells him he could have knifed a man in the subway, and later introduces him to his wife's murderer. The inspector completely overlooks all this of course. The inspector tells the other two men it's better to keep the murderers on the streets, that way they don't contaminate the innocent in prison. Another scene has the three men comforting the wife of a man they have just killed (on his instructions). She is then extremely ill in bed, and the trio call for a doctor. He arrives, and then makes love to the stricken lady while the men watch. Afterwards he gives the diagnosis, "It's just a minor viral infection."The misogynist murderer is later seen searching for a woman alone to kill. A man tells him there's a mature lady who lives next door to him. "How do you know she's mature?", "Because she makes Jam.", he offers. The police inspector later asks for around thirty officers to accompany him to a house to arrest a violinist, just because he is allergic to them. It is all very funny, surreal and refreshing. If you like the later films of Buñuel, you'll like Buffet Froid."
Death Warmed Up
Felixpath | Vermont, USA | 04/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Buffet Froid" is a thriller without thrills, a murder mystery with no solution, and a comedy that's only funny to a certain type of person. When you add all these ingredients up, you get one heck of a surrealist piece. It is a movie many people will hate after just one viewing. It is bleak, morbid, ruthless, and bizarre in its apparent lack of concern for plot or realism. When I watched in my high-school French class, there wasn't much laughter, though there was a lot of "What??" and "Oh, my God..." I didn't hate it, though. I was quite intrigued.The film opens in a metro station, where a young man named Alphonse (Gerard Depardieu) attempts to engage an unfriendly older man in conversation. Oddly, the man warms up when the topic of duscussion switches to death and murder. Alphonse produces a switchblade knife, and it's hard to tell if he's threatening or just emphasizing his words. The knife vanishes; the older man grows frightened and flees on a train; and very shortly afterward, Alphonse finds him lying in a passageway with the knife buried in his stomach. Is Alphonse the murderer? Not even he knows.Alphonse goes home, where his wife doesn't react at all upon learning of the murder. They live in a cheerless apartment halfway up a large tenement complex that is completely uninhabited except for them and their new upstairs neighbor, a police chief. Alphonse's wife goes missing and turns up murdered in a vacant lot, and before we know it, a short, nervous man is knocking on Alphonse's door and introducing himself as the murderer. Alphonse invites him in for a drink, and they are soon joined by the police chief ("I'd like you to meet my wife's murderer." "Pleasure."). Then another man shows up who wants Alphonse to assassinate someone for him, but the victim turns out to be...and so on."Buffet Froid" may not look like a surrealist piece, but it definitely is. All throughout the movie, there's a sense of wrongness and unreality. Alphonse, the chief, and the murderer form a kind of alliance and have an odd series of adventures that all result in someone's death. Over the course of the film, no less than fifteen people are shot, stabbed, strangled, drowned, or suffocated, and yet the characters never react to the deaths with anything other than vague interest or mild annoyance. Everyone in the movie is either a murderer or has the potential to be one. No one behaves like a normal human being would in the circumstances, and this makes the film much more unpredictable and unsettling.It's not just the acting, either. The cinematography is all browns, grays, and earthy colors, with an occaisonal startling splash of bright red (not blood; there is no blood anywhere in the film, despite all the death). There is virtually no music, except in a bizarre scene where Alphonse and the police chief visit a wealthy home and the chief is literally tortured by a string quintet. The scenes have little connection, and the motives of the characters are completely random, except for one person who I won't reveal. The closing scenes involve a bridge, a rowboat, and an ironic final twist that brings the plot in a macabre full circle. As the end credits roll, you feel unsatisfied because you're used to a conclusion that makes sense and wraps everything up. Oh, "Buffet Froid" wraps everything up, but definitely not in a happily-ever-after kind of way.So, these are my thoughts on this peculiar little film. I recommend it to fans of surrealism and/or morbid humor. I can't say how much I "liked" it, but I admired its style and unapologetic ghoulishness. As long as France keeps making weird movies, I suppose I'll keep watching them. That is all."
A buñuelian film noir
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 05/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the best tradition of the sarcasticc, ironic and devasting spirit of Luis Buñuel's filmography (and obviously a Billy Wilder's touch), the film runs by its own with a masterful plot brilliant travels and remarkable performances.
Blier made a film absolutely free of any kind of convencionalism, intelligent humor, clever sense of absurd and mesmerizing laberyntic journey into the underworld, the acid view about a policeman who decides breaking the rules together with two men who are under a high stress anguish by different reasons . Suddenly all the sense of reality suffers a blackout and you become part of it.
Watch this film. And convince by yourself this is a fascinating tale, a brilliant work, and an unforgettable movie in any age.
You'll be widely rewarded. And please, forget the logical and drown in this surrealistic story.
Depardieu as always at his top."
John Farr | 07/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Blier's death-obsessed, surrealist black comedy features the ever-prolific Depardieu as blasé drifter Alphonse, who--desensitized to violence--wanders a nightmarish urban landscape with his two unlikely allies, a cop (played by the director's father) and a serial killer. Blier, who won an Oscar for his "Get Out Your Handkerchiefs," invokes every noir cliché in the book, only to subvert them all in arch Bunuelian fashion. Bleak, morbid, and bizarre, this is a murder mystery with no tidy solutions or evident logic. But if you're in a Kafkaesque sort of mood, feast on Buffet Froid."