BITTER MOON is a very well made and well directed movie by Roman
Polanski. It is a story about depravity and cruelty told mainly with
The main couple is a man who calls himself "an obnoxious cripple"
(played by Peter Coyote whose best movie was A MAN IN LOVE) and a very
beautiful and sensual woman (played by Emmanuelle Seigner from
FRANTIC). The "other couple" is played by Hugh Grant (who seems to be
in every other movie this year, but his best was FOUR WEDDINGS AND A
FUNERAL) and Kristin Scott-Thomas (from FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL but
much better on TV in Masterpiece Theater's "Body and Soul").
The non-flashback part of the show is set on a cruise ship in the
Mediterranean in winter - a bleak, cold, and stormy time. The script
(Gerard Brach, John Brownjohn, Pascal Bruckner, Jeff Gross, and Roman
Polanski) is very effective and has Grant drawn into a black hole
listening to Coyote tell the story of his marriage. Grant listens in
repulsion because he wants to have an affair with Coyote's wife, and
Coyote will not agree until Grant hears the whole story.
Basically, they loved each other intensely but Coyote got bored
and started badly abusing Seigner to get her to leave. When you see
her, you may find it very hard to believe he would EVER get bored of
her, but you must suspend disbelief. Meanwhile she loved him like she
was a little puppy dog who keeps coming back no matter how bad it
gets. You may be able to guess where the movie goes from there, but I
suspect you will not guess the ending.
This is one depressing, but well done movie. The acting by
Scott-Thomas and Coyote are okay except than Coyote goes overboard a
bit. I am a big fan of Scott-Thomas, and I wish she had a much bigger
role. Grant gives the worst performance. He keeps looking like he
couldn't believe he actually agreed to make such a movie. Seigner's
acting is the best of the bunch, but the real high point of this movie
is the directing. Polanski knows what he wants to do, and he does it.
Some movies are feel good movies. This one is a big black hole of
depressing images. If Hollywood screen tested this movie, they would
have demanded another ending. Nothing upbeat here. Polanski paints a
world without redemption.
BITTER MOON runs an acceptably long 2:13. It is rated R for abuse
and violence. It would be too intense for all but the most mature
teenagers. I recommend BITTER MOON to adults and rate it ** 1/2.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes