Menage | Chicago Reader

Menage

84 minutes 1986

More social provocation from Bertrand Blier (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs), about a gay cat burglar (Gerard Depardieu) who teams up with an unhappy married couple (Michel Blanc and Miou-Miou) to pull off a few heists and rearrange the pair's domestic furniture. If Handkerchiefs (1978) suggested that a woman's proper place is under heel, as a sexual/domestic slave, Menage (1986) seems to argue that she has no proper place at all: faithless, calculating, incapable of authentic emotion (the two men wax poetically about personal feelings, but all Miou-Miou worries about are crass domestic comforts), her functions might as easily be filled by an accommodating male, and in this case they are, with burglar and hubby setting up house while wifey hits the streets. What saves Blier's machismo posturing from instant dismissability is his willingness to set his own beliefs at risk: if hetero and homo are matters of circumstance rather than nature (and Blier seems to insist that they are: equally inviting and repugnant sexual options), then what becomes of his vaunted male superiority? The finale provides an answer that I suspect Blier himself finds ironically unsettling: his men are reduced to the free-floating state in which Blier women naturally exist, a pair of infinitely adaptable, roachlike survivors. Not a film for all tastes, and probably insulting to most, though there's more complicity in the insults than immediately meets the eye. In French with subtitles.

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