(1980, Maurice Pialat)
“I prefer a loafer who f**ks to a rich guy who bores me”
No, this is not a biopic detailing the life of popular singer Lulu. It’s a French art-house film about a woman who cheats on her husband with an aimless drifter named Loulou, played by Gerard Depardieu. And sadly, it’s unlikely to make you wanna shout.
The problem is, Loulou plods along without any real direction. The movie is a series of disjointed scenes of Nelly, our protagonist, sleeping with Loulou, teasing her husband with this fact, and her husband being alternately angry and mopey, all mixed in with scenes of Loulou being a useless bum for most of the time.
I get it’s supposed to be a slice of life piece, but the movie really doesn’t go anywhere. There’s no attempt at a message, and nothing particularly intriguing about what’s going on. While if…, for example, was similarly plodding and disjointed, at least it was surreal and intriguing, and it had an obvious message it was trying to convey. Loulou just made me wonder what the purpose of it was.
The main issue with a movie that relies so heavily on character over plot was that none of the characters were interesting enough to sustain the movie. Both the main characters – Nelly and Loulou – are horribly, unsympathetic characters who only share brief moments of chemistry, and the husband just comes across as either psychotic or pathetic.
Nelly is the worst. She’s pretty blatant about the fact she’s cheating on her husband, and practically waves it in his face for the whole movie. She hangs around, working in the same office as him, and even drops hints that she could get back together with him before just casually dropping him and chasing Loulou again. Not that she treats him any better. At one point she gets moody towards him despite nothing really happening to justify it, and near the end of the film (Spoilers!) she dumps him over the phone because she hasn’t got the guts to do it in person. And we’re supposed to like this character?!
It’s also hard to see exactly what she sees in Loulou apart from the fact he’s apparently good in bed. He’s a layabout with possible criminal tendencies (I say possible since this movie’s so vague about everything it’s hard to tell) and pretty much treats her as a sex toy. Perhaps it’s an attempt to ask why women frequently go for the bad guy? If it is, nothing is really said to answer this question.
I genuinely had a hard time trying to find any sense of meaning in this movie. I’d have liked it more if Nelly did some soul-searching and realised she was a horrible person. Maybe if the relationship with Loulou broke down in a more effective way suggesting Nelly’s only in it for the thrill of cheating, and the second it became a real relationship she was backing away. What if we see Loulou reform through Nelly and they both become better people? Any of these options would be preferable to what we got – a flip-flopping mess.
There’s nothing wrong trying to make movies more like real life, but even then there still needs to be some kind of artistic statement, or some degree of entertainment value. Loulou fails to do this, and ends up being little more than a dull miniature soap opera.
Starring Isabelle Huppert & Gerard Depardieu
Written by Arlette Langmann & Maurice Pialat
Music by Philippe Sarde
Cinematography by Pierre-William Glenn & Jacques Loiseleux
Edited by Sophie Coussein & Yann Dedet
Favourite Scene: There was some minor intrigue when Nelly gets involved with helping Loulou do something for a friend. There are hints of the activity being illegal, so there is some tension…which is never resolved as the scene is dropped
Scene That Bugged Me: The scene where Nelly is randomly in a bad mood with Loulou. I genuinely couldn’t figure out what he’d done to piss her off.
Watch it if: You’re a Depardieu completionist
Avoid it if: You like your films to be less like soap operas