Sometimes, at look at past films now (1976-2019 in this case) can remind us that, just perhaps, the best bits of cinema have already been made.
In this monstrously creative venture by first-time director-writer Serge Gainsbourg—mostly known as a composer of soundtracks, the notion of who do I love, how do I love, is laid as bare as the three principals who find themselves in a love triangle that might need a murder to fully satisfy everyone.
Joe Dallesandro (eight years after his triumph in the first of Paul Morrisey’s trilogy, beginning with Flesh—cross-reference below) playing Krassky—er, Krass for short (but not hiding his famous “Joe” tattoo), ekes out a living as a garbage dump truck driver, while his workmate (the just furry-enough Hugues Quester as the ever-jealous Padovan) eats out his colleague at every available opportunity. A hilarious scene of picking up a covey of fellow road travellers whose vehicle has finally balked at its reckless driver, ends with a literal dump for the ages.
Ready for an unordered beer (coffee and two hamburgers was the request), Krassky is suddenly smitten with Johnny (named as such for her small breasts and short haircut—Jane Birkin—cross-reference below—delivers a performance of extraordinary honesty and courage).
Stirring the racial/homophobic pot is Johnny’s boss, Boris (done up to a grouchy T by René Kolldehoff).
At the centre of it all is the sex. Unable to get erect with Johnny in the “prescribed” manner/position, Krassky is all boner when she flips over and offers her ass. The problem now being that as she is impaled by a considerable amount of flesh, her resultant screams arouse the landlord to evict his horny tenants (two of these in modest digs; one, upscale—but not upscale enough to ensure “hearing the other way” from paid-off managers).
Along this inventively created journey (the honky-tonk piano interventions adding much to the feel and style), a quote from Shakespeare (“Alas poor Yorick) in the garbage heaps, some banjo stylings, and an amateur striptease competition (bodies hot and cool, expressions matching their owners) adds universal depth to the main narrative.
To obtain her heart’s desire, Johnny professes, “I’m a boy.” To win his lover back, Padovan employs his perpetually present plastic bag to the point of almost snuff. Shaken to her naked core, Johnny—faced with losing the only being who has ever fulfilled her—screaming or not—also abandons her love and dignity, declaiming “I didn’t mean it,” far too late.
Not a film for the squeamish (“Isn’t life grand?”), a viewing is highly recommended. JWR