The film he directed that year, Sweet Movie, stands as one of the most bizarre examples of what a moderately successful nut job can do with a camera and a budget -- a poorly received cautionary tale to filmmakers who get too full of themselves. (Indeed, Makevejev obviously got some flak for this one -- the film was banned in at least a few countries, and the man would not make another movie for seven years.)
What Sweet Movie is "about" is almost impossible to put into words. I'll try, but you won't believe me... Carole Laure stars as the winner of the Miss Virginity World Contest, the prize being marriage to a Texas tycoon (John Vernon, Dean Wormer from Animal House). The tycoon takes her home, imprisoning her in a giant milk bottle, urinating on her on their wedding night. She escapes to France -- folded up in a suitcase, no less -- where she encounters a musician named El Macho -- at the Eiffel Tower, natch. El Macho ends up leaving her in the care of a radical therapy commune (a real group (at least at the time) called the Therapie-Komune) whose grotesque antics center around infantilism: food fights, breast suckling, public urination, shitting contests, and plenty of general violence to leaves Laure looking stunned -- at least before she is dunked into a vat of chocolate. And believe me, this much male nudity you've neverseen.
I told you you wouldn't believe me.
A parallel story gets much less screen time but is far less offensive, involving a semi-crazed female riverboat captain who takes a sailor aboard her boat, only later revealing its odious cargo.
While Sweet Movie initially recalls the early work of Terry Gilliam, David Lynch, and even Lars von Trier, it inevitably degenerates into something Charles Manson might have produced. There is no story. There are no characters. There is no quality in the filmmaking. There's nothing here except 99 minutes of celluloid intended to get you riled up -- if you're a fetishist, it will get you sexually excited. If you're relatively normal, it will make you hit stop on the VCR, then rewind, then eject, then you will get in your car and drive down to the video store to demand a refund.
Cinema buffs may take pity on Makevejev and his self-indulgence, and I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt here -- maybe he's pushing the limits of free speech or something similarly noble. I can give him a star for that. But is the film "the most beautiful film on sexual politics I've ever seen," as Jack Nicholson shills on the video box? Hardly. Remember, Jack was probably high when he said that.
Vengeance is sweet.
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 12th June 1974
Distributed by: Criterion Collection
Production compaines: Maran Film, V.M. Productions
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Dusan Makavejev
Producer: Vincent Malle
Screenwriter: Dusan Makavejev
Starring: Pierre Clémenti as A sailor from the Potemkin, Anna Prucnal as Capt. Anna Planeta, Carole Laure as Miss World 1984, Sami Frey as El Macho, John Vernon as Mr. Dollars, Marpessa Dawn as Mama Communa, Roy Callender as Jeremiah Muscle
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