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Bitter Moon

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Bitter Moon

Starring: Peter Coyote, Emmanuelle Seigner
Director: Roman Polanski
Rated: R
RunTime: 139 Minutes
Release Date: April 1994
Genres: Drama, Erotica, Romance

*Also starring: Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, Victor Banerjee, Sophie Patel

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

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 long flashbacks.

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

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