Haunting look at one woman's desperate journey to discover h
Margaux Paschke | New York | 01/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's always interesting to find different opinions about the same film. I believe the other reviewer missed some key moments in this film. It was a haunting look at one woman's desperate journey for self-discovery. Also, from my perspective, any nudity included was not titilating but used to make a point. It starts with Luigi, an Italian transplant, who has been hired to track down his friend's fiancée (France Robert) who jilted him and stole money. Luigi starts by going to the small town where France grew up. We find parents who tell a very revealing story about how their daughter took money to get out of town and later sent regular payments for that money as well as estimated costs for her keep from age 18 to the day she left (age 25, I think). Luigi looks at her childhood room and finds stacks upon stacks of books. It must have been such a forlorn childhood being an only child to parents wanted a boy and where books were her only source of companionship. Luigi finds only four people who knew her and two had limited interaction and the other two were not pleasant encounters. One male was her first sexual encounter and he brags to Luigi about conquering her. As Luigi makes notes of his discoveries, we see flashbacks of what really happened through France's eyes. There is an overwhelming sense of loneliness that overshadows everything else. When her first love betrays her, France flees the small town to find something, anything else to fill the emptiness she feels. She is young and attractive and soon discovers that men want her. France meets an earnest young man who falls in love with her but her demand for money in exchange for sex torments him. When he asks her to marry him, she runs away. Her life spirals downward from this point. France is a contradictory person, she wants love but is unable to accept it. Her sense of betrayal from her first love and childhood has left her damaged. It was never about the money (France has kept all the money she stole from her fiancée and it is eventually returned), charging money for sex is France's attempt to keep it devoid of any emotion, as desperate as she is for it. She no longer believes in the concept of "love", it has become a commodity to her. France suffers for having this belief and we, the viewer, get to see just how much. France does not seem to desire the men back but will do anything to prolong the human contact. As much as she tries, France cannot always keep her emotional neediness in check. We watch in sadness as she is debased by men. After hearing an update on Luigi's progress, his friend notes, "she knows...she knows what we know". Luigi is confounded by this remark until he tracks France down to Paris and finds out what she has gone through as well as having to confront his own demons when seeing his ex-wife and her new family. All of them have nothing to fill the emptiness they feel inside - not his 50 year old bachelor friend who lives with his sister and has affairs with bimbos; not himself whose wife found true love and it was not with him; nor France who never had a real relationship with anyone. This film is heartbreaking in its sad reflection of human nature.
It does end on a positive note. When Luigi finally discovers France, he has gotten to know her well before they ever meet face-to-face. He lets France go and brings her to the airport for a trip to New York, her imagined paradise. France soon discovers that New York was not the perfect place where she thought things would be better. After much suffering, France comes to a self realization. She calls Luigi and asks if it is too late. We have seen Luigi back home in Italy, waiting......and the viewer is relieved when he replies, "no, it is not too late."
Depressing At Times
Jeff Marzano | Essex Junction, VT USA | 08/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a depressing movie at times.
It's about this young woman who doesn't seem to have any direction in her life. She was born and raised in a small town in France but she leaves all that to find 'adventure' in the 'big city'. Her parents are heart broken about this and don't know where she is.
It's a very sexy movie at times (although not rated 'X'). I guess there's something exciting for us to see a beautiful woman who becomes desperate in life and has to go through any and all degradations to get money. Perhaps it touches that part of us that wants to forget all of the various restrictions and consequences that life places on us.
At least its exciting in a movie. When it happens in real life it is quite another matter indeed.
After being degraded in Europe she goes to New York and the process starts there. She passes out in the street from hunger.
It has a somewhat happy ending though. The guy who is twice her age that she left standing at the alter after stealing his money offers to send her a plane ticket to return.
If you call that a happy ending I don't know.
This is a good movie to watch for someone who thinks it might be fun to leave a stable and safe environmnet to go find 'excitement' in the big world.
There's a sort of side plot I guess with the private detective that the jilted groom hired to try to find her. He finds her but then sort of falls in love with her also (the term 'falling in love' being taken in the context of this particular movie). He has his own issues since his wife left him and remarried. He went over to her house and tried to rape her at gunpoint by first seducing her with an ice cream cone.
I don't think this dvd I watched has the option to hear the voices in English so I had to read the subtitles.
The Beast (La bête)