Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 130 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Marcello Mastoianni, Philippe Noiret, Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi.
Best one-liner: "Your mouth smells like a borscht."
And now for something completely different–
With LA GRANDE BOUFFE, Marco Ferreri seems more content to play the role of the provocateur than that of the sage, but the questions (and eyebrows) he raises are certainly more than worthy of discussion. Is there some kind of bell curve for vulgarity? Would everyone be equally vile with the 'freedom' of gratuitous wealth? Are the crackwhore and the 'pillar of society' living on a similar plane of existence, but with one lifestyle borne of poverty-stricken wretchedness and the other borne of bourgeois boredom?
What happens when the desperation of pathetic teenagers is combined with the resources well-heeled douchebags? What's grossest: a rich fuck penetrating a prostitute with a pipe, endless flatulence in the midst of heavyset humping, bluebloods schlerping oysters as fast as they can, or affluent dopes gobbling the frosting off of a breast-shaped pastry until they simply drop dead?
Well, LA GRANDE BOUFFE does not answer these questions, nor does it even quite pose them. Instead, it places you directly into a world of debasement, beautiful cinematography, shitloads of food, and foodloads of shit. The universe in which this film takes place is exceedingly Buñuelian, and the stars are legends of the European art house: Marcello Mastroianni (8 1/2, LA DOLCE VITA, LA NOTTE), Michel Piccoli (CONTEMPT, DIABOLIK, DISCREET CHARM), Philippe Noiret (CINEMA PARADISO, COUP DE TORCHON), and Ugo Tognazzi (PORCILE, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES). You can call it a ‘gastronomic seminar,’ the work of a social gadfly, or a movie where Michel Piccoli dances around in a pale pink turtleneck while waving around a decapitated cow’s head, and you’d be right in each instance.
In the end, it’s just a visceral boot up the ass, and whatever you take away from it is what Ferreri intended for you. And, as a side note, I have to tell you, this made for quite an interesting, unintentional double-feature with Steve McQueen's HUNGER. Four stars.