Monday, March 29, 2010

Film Review: THE GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE (1968, Jack Cardiff)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 91 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Marianne Faithfull, Alain Delon (LE CERCLE ROGUE, RED SUN), Roger Mutton (THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE). Music by Les Reed (CREEPSHOW 2, onetime member of the John Barry Seven).
Tag-line: "The film sensation of the year!"
Best one-liner: "Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive!"

Europe's answer to EASY RIDER? More like FASTER, PUSSYCAT, PRETENTIOUS VOICEOVER. And that's not altogether a bad thing. A straight-laced cellist somberly plays in the midst of a wonky circus:

Tears stream down the face of Marianne Faithfull:

Alain Delon, riding a motorcycle, crashes the party, smiling like a total douche:

Clowns chase him:

Marianne cries. Suddenly, she's atop a horse. Delon is whipping her clothes off!

Disorienting wide-angle shots! More clowns! Pink filters! Horses! Birds! Horses and birds!

And we're not even five minutes into the movie! The majority of the film is Marianne riding around on a motorcycle dressed in Leather Tuscadero's catsuit (well, I guess it's the other way around). Much ado is made of the fact that she wears nothing beneath her catsuit. I imagine that not only would that be pretty uncomfortable, but that the suit would get pretty rank after riding across Europe unlaundered. Since the film was not presented in Smell-O-Vision, however, I suppose it's a moot point.

I don't know why I'm showing you this.

The cinematography is astonishing. Director Jack Cardiff made his name as a DP on many a Powell & Pressburger production, and the film certainly features some of the most compelling 'driving footage' I've ever seen.

Too bad it's accompanied by whiny, stream-of-consciousness, pseudo-revolutionary voiceover that would make even Wim Wenders blush. As she puts on her catsuit: "'s like skin...I'm like an animal." She refers to her bike as a "black pimp" and talks much of war, rebellion, and free love. It's difficult to flirt with profundity, however, when an equal emphasis is being placed on her catsuit-zipper cleavage.

Nonsensicality rules the day. At one point, it's absolutely valid to query "Is this a flashback or an alternate psychedelic universe?"

At another point, there's a whirling 'Fondue POV' shot- somewhere, Dario Argento is shuddering in ecstasy and doesn't know why.

And the jaw-dropping fiery finale (with an exploding VW Bug!) bumps this wreck up to three loopy stars.


-Sean Gill


Jason said...

"FASTER, PUSSYCAT, PRETENTIOUS VOICEOVER." Haha- I have seen this, and that's putting it lightly.

Anonymous said...

No her suit wouldn't be 'rank' as leather absorbs sweat and 'breathes'. It's not PVC.