Loulou (1980) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Another sloppy film that was nominated for the grand prize at Cannes. I can't really explain why.  Maurice Pialat was 55 when he made this movie, but it looks like a NYU senior film project, and has the same sophomoric pseudo-existentialist anti-material weltanschauung. It is not even technically sound. The lighting is completely incompetent. Although some of the set-ups are composed thoughtfully, the lack any life or energy. , Actors sometimes wander out of the scene altogether, if I may really call them actors. It appears that only the three main characters were played by professional performers. The background players all stand around with their arms stiffly at their sides and recite their lines like zombies. It seems like most of them have never been in any other film, or at most one other Pialat film.

Even the female lead, Isabelle Huppert, was the fourth choice for the role, but Sylvia Kristel, Isabelle Adjani and Miou-Miou all turned down the project for various reasons, so Huppert got the job. 

Why the acclaim for this film? I guess the film caught the popular Zeitgeist of 1980, or at least the French portion of it.

As for the plot - there really isn't one. It's a slice of life that ends when ... I guess when they ran out of film. Isabelle Huppert plays an educated upper middle class wife, who has a good job in advertising but is bored with her prosperous but lifeless existence. To deal with her ennui, she has a fling with an unemployed lower-class ex-con but, as time goes on, it becomes less of a fling and more of a lifestyle commitment. She starts to hang around with his friends and watch them get drunk every night. She drops her own family and hangs around with his. She even goes along on some of his petty criminal activities. I guess this symbolizes her rejection of bourgeois values in favor of ... um ... no values, I guess. Getting drunk every night, maybe. I don't really know. 

She eventually gets pregnant, and they both seem happy about that at first, but she ends up getting an abortion. That more or less concludes the film, as summed up by this dialogue:

He: Why did you do it? I dreamed of this baby.

She: You didn't show any responsibility. You didn't even get a job.

He: I would have gotten a job after the baby was born.

She: How could I know that?

He: You should have trusted me.

She: (The official French shoulder shrug as if to say, "C'est la vie.")

The end. 


DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features except the original trailer


Isabelle Huppert is naked in various scenes from various angles, including frontals.

Agnes Rosier appears topless.

Gerard Depardieu is seen naked from the side.

Tuna's notes in yellow

Gérard Depardieu is Loulou, an unemployed ex-con whose life centers around getting drunk and laid, and who survives by sponging off friends and committing the odd burglary. Isabelle Huppert is a successful ad executive in her rich husband's agency. She meets Loulou one night at a club, and can't wait to leave her husband and jump into Loulou's bed and then into his life. He has no objection to their relationship since sleeping in a hotel room every night beats the hell out of sponging from his friends, especially since and she pays the tab. Naturally, Loulou doesn't let this new relationship get in the way of his screwing other women.

Then an hour goes by before something worthwhile happens. The point of the film seems to be that a modern woman can emulate male behavior and live with her head and/or heart in her genitals. Or perhaps this was the French equivalent of a "good girl can't resist bad boy" film.  Finally, Huppert's character gets pregnant. Will the shiftless Loulou get a job, marry her, and raise a family with her?

I don't fucking think so.

Given that the film goes nowhere and that the photography and lighting are filled with mistakes, I am left wondering why anyone would enjoy it but, like snails, it was hugely popular in France.

Snails, however, move faster.

Even after they are cooked.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 3.5/4.

  • It was nominated for three Cesar awards.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.9. One thing I need to tell you. US Voters 4.8, non-US voters 7.0.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This film is an extremely low C-. If you're into the whole freethinking antimaterialism thing, you might be able to watch this, but in my opinion it was popular only because it captured some 1980 French zeitgeist, not because it was any good. 99% of you should avoid it, because it is technically poor, so the rating would be an F is this is not the kind of movie you like to begin with." Tuna says, "Not only is it a lame story, but is technically inept as well. Then there is the whole issue of being forced to look at Depardieu's hairy butt. This is an E+"

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