Monday, April 28, 2008
Last Tango in Paris
Fri PM I went to Film Forum and saw “Last Tango in Paris.” Brando’s acting is so raw, it’s uncomfortable to watch. His torment feels too private, like you're watching something you have no right to see.
Here's the story - a woman kills herself. Her husband doesn’t know why. He begins seeing a much younger woman, but insists when they are together in this empty Paris apartment, they are never to use each others’ names, and are never to give the other any information on their lives. The young girl has a fiancée, a nitwit avant-garde filmmaker she plans to marry. The sex with the older man becomes rough, sadistic – borderline rape. She’s unable to break off the relationship. Suddenly, he decides to open up to her. He tells her his name, his past, that her loves her, that they’re going to spend their lives together. She doesn’t want him anymore. He refuses to take no for an answer. She flees. He pursues. She shoots him dead.
I have no idea what it means. Grief, depression, using sex as a band-aid. The temptation to dehumanize another, to think of another person strictly in terms of your own physical needs. The false lure of something anonymous, without strings, without messy human emotions - but of course that can’t exist for long. We form connections, whether we like it or not.
Bertolucci said the movie was about his experiences with psychoanalysis. Brando said on the set Bertolucci just kept saying the movie was about his penis.
It was always easy to make fun of Brando’s acting – the mumbling, the scratching, the mannerisms. Anyone can do it, and we immediately recognize it as Brando. It's like imitating Dylan. I can do it and I don’t even know Dylan. That’s what happens with a talent that’s that distinctive, one of a kind. Now that Brando's gone, it's so clear we will never see his like again.