Les Valseuses (Going Places)

France (1974) Dir. Bertrand Blier

Jean-Claude (Gérard Depardieu) and Pierrot (Patrick Dewaere) are a couple of scumbags who drift from town to town causing mayhem then running away from the mess they’ve caused. In one town they get more than they bargained for when they steal the car of a salon owner and Pierrot is shot in the groin as a result. Seeking revenge, they kidnap the guy’s “girl” Marie-Ange (Miou Miou) and an unlikely bond forms between them, giving them a place of salvation when times get tough, which is frequently.

Made in 1974, it certainly shows as things like “political correctness” and simple respect for human rights are far from present here. Our two leads see all women as sex objects, be it Marie-Ange, or a young wife breastfeeding on a train (Brigitte Fossey), or Jeanne Pirolle a forty-something ex jailbird (Jeanne Moreau) or even a 16 year-old trouble maker Jacqueline (Isabelle Huppert) and think nothing of stealing whatever takes their fancy right under the noises of their owners. Things come to a head when Jacques Pirolle (Jacques Chailleux), the jailbird son of Jeanne, who claims he has a tip on some money which ends up with a shooting and the lads now on the run as murder accomplices, with Marie-Ange in tow.

The relationship with the sexually frigid young hairdresser is an odd one as she is the most abused of the women yet she lets them although over time a mutual bond grows, especially after Marie-Ange finally climaxes after a (triple) bonk with Jacques then becomes insatiable. Despite the brutish tone of the film, the synchronised reactions from Jean-Claude and Pierrot to the sounds of Marie-Ange’s pleasured screams are hilarious, as are the mid drive sex scenes in one of the many stolen cars.

The two leads are interesting in that they have no redeeming qualities whatsoever and the viewer spends the majority of the film hoping they get their comeuppance – then in the final act they seem to have slowly morphed into loveable anti-hero rogues whose antics raise an oddly triumphant smile, even when they sexually corrupt the already troubled Jacqueline before fleeing for a final time.

I can’t imagine many women appreciating this film, even with the argument that it is nearly 40 years old (and French), and while a lot of the antics are tame compared to modern films, it still has a disturbing echo to it. And strangely enjoyable to boot.