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Consuming Passions
dragon-903 December 1999
Roman Polanski again explores the depths of the human psyche in Bitter Moon, a magnificent epic tale of obsessive lust and the oh-so-familiar winding course of a passionate romance gone sour.

Bitter Moon centers around a familiar Polanski theme, that we are capable of being both torturer and victim, and usually both simultaneously. For anyone who doubts the validity of much of the past century of French intellectual thought, from the likes of Andre Gide, Foucault, and others, see this movie. For anyone who has been in a painful twisted relationship, see this movie. You will understand it. Some of it might be hard to stomach but that is the nature of truly great filmmaking.

A beautifully crafted movie, almost lyrical at times, Bitter moon is set in contemporary Paris but is told in a series of long complex flashbacks superbly narrated by Oscar (a terrific Peter Coyote) to Nigel (Hugh Grant as the usual British prat), both passengers on a cruise ship to India. Nigel and his wife Fiona, played by Kirsten Scott-Thomas, are on a holiday to enliven a stable but stale marriage. The couples become embroiled through the lurid tale of Oscar and Mimi's (Emmanuelle Seigner) love affair. Emmanuelle, Polanski's real-life wife, is superb and her incredible performance takes her from sumptuous beauty to complete wreck, a performance that deserves far more praise than was received. The lack of attention to her performance in this movie is no doubt due to the notoriety in the puritanical American press of her husband.

As a whole, Bitter Moon may not be Polanski's best film but some periods of the movie represent his very best work. Throughout, limits are pushed to the brink of tastelessness but Polanski masterfully pulls back just in time. The direction is complex and highly sophisticated and the movie arouses a range of emotions from dread to empathy to disgust to hilarity. The story line is far too complicated to synopsize appropriately in this review. Bitter moon is a great film, one of this reviewer's top 10 for the 1990s. Another must see! A word of caution, however, Bitter Moon is not a good date movie.
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Polanski doing what he does best
The_Void21 March 2005
Bitter Moon once again sees the master of the macabre, Roman Polanski, doing what he does best. With echoes of his earlier film 'Knife in the Water', Bitter Moon is a story of lust, revenge, betrayal, dependency and most of all; love, wrapped tightly around a coil of taboos and sexual perversions. While not as good as some of Polanski's other works, Bitter Moon still stands out as a highlight of his filmography and is certainly a lot better than many people have reputed it to be. The film follows two very different couples on a cruise ship; An English couple, Nigel and Fiona and an American cripple, Oscar, who is married to the French seductress Mimi. After meeting Mimi in the ship's bar, Nigel becomes entranced by her and later meets her husband and proceeds to learn his and wife's story...and it's not exactly pretty. With this movie, Polanski has obliterated the barriers of decency, and sometimes even makes you, the viewer, uncomfortable due to the goings on. And that's the mark of someone that knows how to handle his audience!

The acting in the movie really is first rate and there isn't a weak link there, especially not within the four leads. I'm no fan of Hugh Grant, in fact I hate the man, but he's exactly the right casting choice for this movie and it's almost a shame that he went on to make lots of rubbish movies after it. The two women, played by Kristin Scott Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner are well done in terms of the characters and the acting, but it is Peter Coyote who steals the show as the abominable Oscar. His character in this film is the sort that actors can really get their teeth into, and Coyote bites down hard in this movie. Polanski's direction is excellent as usual and the gritty style mixed with the great director's edgy camera-work help to create a claustrophobic environment that allows Polanski to perfectly portray his characters' mindset. The themes on display are impressive, and in spite of the fact that it oversteps the mark on several occasions, Polanski's film always feels real and the lesson in the love that the film teaches is duly noted. Bitter Moon is a film that will get under your skin and stay there and not only that but there's enough happening to ensure that this is always a fun watch. Recommended viewing.
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eerie life, arcane love
strindbergman21 March 2004
when i first saw this movie in 1992 i found it shocking by its erotic scenes and burn-out love story. i noticed it was a good movie, but that was the end of the story.

now i bought it in dvd and saw it for the 2nd time. it's a masterpiece.

everything blends perfectly in this film: 1990's paris, the colours of the film (etalonage), the excellent vangelis's music score, the evolution of a love story, the roles played by the 2 couples...

emmanuelle seigner is great playing the role of a nymph and a sorcerer, peter coyote is magnificent playing the part of a regular guy who gets insane, hugh grant becomes a perfect boring middle-class british bourgeois and kristin scott thomas her discreet wife looking for action.

one of the best amour-fou stories, along with louis malle's "damage". as rui wrote before, a must see.
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A VERY tragic story about broken love...
SdwOne2 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers

This is without doubt one of the most HUMAN films I have ever seen.

A totally gripping and tragic tale of Fools falling in Love... Only to fall out of it again... TRAGICALLY...

I'm a man, who is NOT afraid to admit that he cried at the end of this film... It was THAT moving... And I'm guessing that if you are one that feels... Or has felt... REAL emotion in your life... Then you'll be moved by this movie too... Perhaps to tears.

The performances are excellent... Perfectly portraying the complexities, contradictions and 'perversions'... If one can call it that... Of the Human heart and spirit.

I seriously felt ashamed to be a man!!! And for once, a movie has made me really think what it must have been like to be a woman who is hopelessly in love with a total bast**d!!! I've never seen so many broken, sad and confused characters in one film before... And the interplay between them is moving and captivating...

Be warned however... This is a serious movie about love, lust and obsession. It is VERY dark on the emotional level, and has NO happy endings... A bit like REAL life perhaps...? So, if you are not yet emotionally mature and have not yet had your heart broken... Or have yet to break any hearts yourself (which is where I'm coming from... Yes, I AM ashamed!!!)... Then I don't think this film is for you...

This film is SO far removed from your usual Hollywood bulls**t, in that it depicts REAL Human emotions on a non superficial level... So stay well clear if you're just looking for a movie to chill out to...

You won't chill out to this one... It sucks you in, bleeds you dry and shatters that age old myth that 'Love Conquers All'...

'Cos take it from me... As this film shows... Love is FAR from perfect...

It's NOT a great movie... But given its very moving emotional content and realism on the portrayal of Human Beings...

I give it 9 / 10.
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Bitter Moon. A forgotten masterpiece
kit-744 July 2005
Every man should watch this film, it is a Polanski masterpiece. The parts are wonderfully played and the script is menacingly accurate. Why it didn't get greater exposure at the time or since baffles me, particularly as two of the principle characters have since become "famous" , Hugh Grant and Kristan Scott Thomas.

Most men will empathise with the morality or lack of in this confused relationship between an older man obsessed with his sexual object in the form of the stunning French actress, and her adoration for him. The haunting reality is that for so many the lack of depth in a relationship is frightening once the sexual desire diminishes. An awesome film 10 out of 10.
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Entrancing, mesmeric and serpentine
Afracious22 November 1999
The film begins with the camera focused on the sea and the waves, and the music with the piano playing to good effect, then an increasingly enlarging zooming shot of a porthole. Then to the cruise liner where the four main characters are based. It is a story narrated and told by Oscar, played by Peter Coyote, who is wheelchair-bound, to Nigel, played by Hugh Grant, a man he meets on the cruise. Nigel is intrigued by an entwining and serpentine tale Oscar tells him, and so are we, and even though it starts to sound incredulous, he has to return to Oscar's quarters to hear more. The tale is so engrossing because it concerns Oscar's beautiful, sultry and seductive wife, Mimi, played mesmerisingly by Emmanuelle Seigner. Oscar is entranced at first with her and delves into all kinds of sexual games, then his passion for her begins to subside and he rejects her and leaves her alone on a plane. All the while Nigel's wife (Kristin Scott-Thomas) is becoming disillusioned with Nigel's fascination with Mimi and Oscar. I do not want to unveil anymore, just to implore you to watch this film and let it mesmerise you, like it did me. I felt as though I had to keep watching and somehow I did not want to leave and let go of it until the end.
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Compelling, delightful film!
gridoon14 October 1999
This film is utterly compelling - it will have you glued to the screen. It's about 2 hours and 15 minutes long, yet it never loses its grip. Although there are a few "funny" moments, you can never be sure whether they were intentional or not. The pacing is slow but wonderfully methodical. But what really makes this picture delightful is the level of the acting of the male stars. While the female leads are also wonderful, the cynical Coyote and, especially, the charmingly shy Grant (his performance here is underrated) provide two different ways for the viewer to enter the story and their interplay is offbeat and endlessly entertaining. This is methodical, first-rate filmmaking by Polanski.
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An Unconventional Story, About Relationship, Moral, Hypocrisy, Behavior, Love and Hate, In Another Masterpiece of Roman Polanski
claudio_carvalho19 July 2004
The British Nigel (Hugh Grant) and his wife Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas) are celebrating the seventh anniversary of their marriage in a cruise to Istanbul and Bombay. While in the trip, the American cripple and frustrated writer Oscar (Peter Coyote) gets close to Nigel, and invites him to listen to his unconventional love and hate story with his French wife Mimi (Emmanuelle Seigner). Oscar tells how he met Mimi in Paris and all their relationship, including details of their sexual life, along the past years. Meanwhile, Nigel feels a great attraction for the sexy and gorgeous Mimi, in a story with tragic consequences.

'Bitter Moon' has been released in Brazil on DVD this week, and yesterday I watched it for the fifth or sixth time, since it is one of my favorites movies ever. This story, about relationship, moral, hypocrisy, behavior, love and hate, fascinates me and shakes my emotions. I really believe that 'Bitter Moon', Peter Coyote and Emmanuelle Seigner have been not nominated to the Oscar because of the problems of Roman Polanski with the American Justice. Emmanuelle Seigner has her best role and performance in his career playing Mimi, an adorable French woman, very much in love with Oscar, who poisons and destroys her. Their love increases, reaches the top and crosses all the boundaries of a sexual relationship, including those 'accepted by a moralist and hypocrite society' (represented by Nigel), questioning how long a love can last, making Oscar bored of Mimi. The problem is that their relationship was supported by sex only, without friendship and respect, basic parameters for a long-term everyday life of a married couple. Hugh Grant is perfect in the role of a typical British man and symbol of a hypocrite society. And Kristin Scott Thomas has a minor, but very important part in the plot, playing a sexually repressed woman due to the behavior of her husband, who released the chains of her repression. The wonderful music of Vangelis and a soundtrack of nice songs, which includes a Brazilian pop song, conclude this masterpiece. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): 'Lua de Fel' ('Bitter Moon')
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Deep and subject of analysis
RResende12 August 2003
I found this film extremely well done for several reasons I will nominate.

It debates some moral issues, how far is it acceptable for a society still full of consevative people, such as the one performed by Hugh Grant, to acept a relationship such as that of the main characters? It is totally at the border of normality (meaning normality not necessarily what's good but what's common). The film also touches strongly the theme of hipocrisie (probably wrong spelled, this word.) once more in the character of Hugh Grant who, despite showing all the time disgut and repugnace for the story he is being told, is always secretly desiring and wanting something equivalent to happen to him (this hipocratic attitude may be the result of growing up in a world and a society where this kind of sexual liberties and practices are repressed and in here once more we are taken to atrong moral issues which take us to rethink the whole thing...).

Apart from this questions this film makes me also think about the relationships between men and women... Is there an everlasting love? or at least an everlasting relationship?... Suddendly I recalled Schopenhauer who claimed that no man could be happy with only one woman... maybe this film is showing that he was right... the pace of the relationship between Mimi and the writer was so high that they just emptied all there possibilities very soon, but if we put that at the scale of a normal marriage, aren't all the possibilities also tried at the end of 10 20 or 30 years? Can a marriage last happy for both till "death tears them apart" ?...

Besides this few topics of discussion (to which I could add some more if I just remembered them right now) I found this film very well directed with some beautiful scenes... also some strongs scenes that stay with us... Excelent performances for the three leading roles... Kristin Scott Thomas is also good in here but not so as in other films also because her somewhat small part in this one didn't allow her to show more than she did. This film proves once more Roman Polansky as one of the greatest directors of our times, since he shows he is totally in control of every detail of direction (I enjoyed the increase of the speed together with the increase of intensity of the relationship among the couple). Good dialogues but specially excelent speeches of the writer whenever he becomes the narrator which is often... Also an excelent note for the soundtrack by Vangelis and other well known songs which appear along. A must see.
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Adds to our understanding of sex as politics
Tim-23024 June 1999
Extremely well made, extremely well acted, extremely intense and disturbing, and extremely conscious of areas of the sexual psyche that I'd never seen so honestly explored in a movie. According to Polanski, it is not love and hate which are opposite, but love and indifference. Obsessive sex gives way, at least between the two lovers of Bitter Moon, to a hatred as savage as cold-blooded murder or all-out war.

These extremities of love and hate work themselves out in a game of power and manipulation, and it remains the only vehicle by which these two can merge with one another so as to lose both their independence and the rest of their inhibitions and illusions. In the end, they become so bound up in their mutual need that the sex itself is no longer central. They might as well be prisoners lashed forever to the same stake, learning actually to enjoy the various torments that the other is able to inflict. Freud thought similarly that all sexual love was ultimately a form of masochism--identification with a partner whom one has caused to suffer. These questions are essential as long as the blood continues to throb in us; and, whether or not we find Polanski's story credible (I do), any thinking person would recognize it as a serious attempt to define who we humans are, both as rutting mammals and as something more.
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Dry Pulp
lschwartz1069 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A memory film that is quite forgettable. Untalented American writer living the ultimate petty-bourgeois life in Paris, and who thinks he's Hemingway, falls in love at first sight with a young French woman while riding on a bus.He gives her his ticket and leaves the bus. He then looks all over for her--I thought writers write?-- and finally finds her waiting tables in a restaurant. He takes her to dinner. They fall in love. They make love. Then they begin to have kinky sex. Then she becomes a dominatrix and he becomes her willing slave. They dabble in fantasy/bestiality via a pig mask. The untalented writer begins to lose interest in her. Now he becomes a sadist and she becomes a martyred masochist. He tells her he's carrying his child. She aborts the pregnancy. He tells her lets go someplace far away. They get on a plane bound fro Martinique. He leaves the plane before it takes off and he abandons her. He then begins to live the life of a playboy--maybe if he had to work for a living he'd be a better writer--and "makes up for lost time." He is hit by a car. Then he is visited in the hospital by his former whipping post, she knocks him out of bed and he becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Now she becomes his sadist/nurse/wife and he becomes a martry. I'd go on but I think I'm making my point.

Prententious garbage. Not a comedy, not a drama, not black comedy, certainly not tragedy, not parody. Just an insult to any intelligent movie goer. And by by the end of the film, Peter Coyote began to resemble Wyle E. Coyote.
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A Terrible movie from an amazing director...
funnyracoon-23-68464419 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes, I just don't get it. How can such a brilliant director do one of the worst movie i've ever seen? Even more: how can people who love Polanski love this? It looks like it's not even from him.

Let me explain myself:

There is that "oh so British" couple cruising on a boat, where they met a guy in wheelchair and his young femme fatale wife, who turns Hugh Grant on. Her husband warn him about how cruel she is and how much he should stay away from her... by doing this: telling his old overly romanticized love story with her, the perfect french girl, "a mix between sexual maturity and naiveté".

And of course it's by never-ending flashbacks in Paris where-every-flat- has-a-view-on-the-Eiffel-Tower with all the clichés that ever existed about Paris/french women. His love story turns into a porn-chic/BDSM relationship with so much details we can make an actual porn out of it. The most twisted it gets, the better it is. And the more predictable too.

And of course it turns Hugh Grant on even more. And what about his wife? That's it, NOTHING about her character. Nothing more, in fact, about Grant's character either. And no real consistency in the main characters too.

No psychology, no depth, no real scenario... FOR MORE THAN TWO HOURS. The photography is not even good! And it got so tacky and old with that Vangelis music, GOD!

Maybe i would have been less strict if it wasn't from Polanski, but this guy made Chinatown, Repulsion, Tess, some of the best movies ever! Do yourself a favor and avoid this one.
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Bleak, depressing film inflicts misery on audience
mlraymond31 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
When I rented this film a few years ago, after seeing clips from it on a cable TV show about unusual sex in movies, I was expecting an intense and kinky adult love story. The fact that the tape was stopped half way through only suggested laziness on the part of the previous renter, who hadn't bothered to rewind it. It wasn't until I had gotten to about that point in the movie that I realized the previous viewer must have quit watching in dismay, and returned it without seeing the rest. Then I began to understand. SPOILERS AHEAD: I felt a real point of cruelty had been reached when Oscar totally dismissed the Thanksgiving dinner that Mimi had gone to a lot of effort to make for him. You could see how hurt she was, and from that point, the movie became more and more difficult to watch. When she begged to be allowed to come back to him, and was a total wreck emotionally, I felt humiliated for her, it seemed so real. After that, things deteriorated so badly that it became almost impossible to watch. I might have felt there was a sort of karmic justice in seeing the arrogant, self-centered Oscar become totally

dependent on the girlfriend he had virtually destroyed, except that she became just as despicable and cruel as he had been. How I ever managed to get to the end of this movie, I don't know, except that I must have been like the Hugh Grant character, who keeps coming back to hear more of Oscar's perverse stories, even though he claims to be shocked by them. Some viewers claim to find a touch of redemptive grace or hope at the very conclusion, but I don't find it worth the agony of sitting through an entire film of two people who supposedly love each other behaving in the most appallingly cruel ways imaginable. Why this movie was ever made, and how anyone could possibly find it of value are beyond me. I have never seen such a despairing,nihilistic vision of the utter hopelessness of male and female relationships. I cannot recommend this movie to anyone, in good conscience. The fact that it is well made and uncomfortably believable make it worse than if it were a cheesy, poorly made film. The pain and suffering in this film are worse than anything I've seen in Bunuel. Only for devoted fans of Roman Polanski.
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Dark, mesmerizing masterpiece!
leepatt1310 June 2013
First off, this film is one of the more unique I have ever watched. It does not fit into any specific genre as it combines romance, mystery, drama, comedy and yes, horror into a strange film you cannot turn off. I have watched it multiple times and with each viewing find something new I did not catch before. There is nothing I would change about this film.

Don't let the reviews that tout this as soft-core porn or a movie about BDSM or twisted sex games gone wrong unduly influence you. The BDSM scenes are indeed integral to the story, as the story is about excess, extremes, and coping.

Yes, there are some kinky sex scenes and descriptive narrations, but at its root it is a story about power (the power of love, infatuation, hate, obsession, cruelty, revenge) and how dangerous that power can be when employed by a selfish person and not tempered with compassion or empathy. How that power can be used to destroy a life, even if seemingly unintentional.

Oscar is a selfish, older man obsessed with pursuing his sexual needs. He "thinks" he falls in love with a beautiful young woman (Mimi), only to grow bored with her after the infatuation stage is over. She is naïve, somewhat innocent (open to debate), and truly loves him. He is only interested in the wild, sensual sex and how far he can ratchet up the sensations.

Ironically, it is the older Oscar who mistakes infatuation/sex for true love while the younger Mimi merely uses it as an expression of her love. For those with a basic understanding of SM relationships (Dom and sub), we see that Mimi first plays the role of the Dom within the bedroom, pleasing Oscar to his delight through various physical acts.

When these roles are reversed, however, we find that Oscar is a terrible dominant – disregarding the nurturing aspect of D/s and taking it too far with emotional and psychological cruelty. Instead of using this role reversal to show love, he instead uses it in an attempt to drive her away from him as he becomes completely indifferent to her. Basically, he is a terrible, selfish person and ultimately abandons her so he can purse random sex with other women. At this point Mimi is "poisoned" (as Oscar's narrative references movie title).

The once naïve and innocent Mimi re-enters his life after an accident, only now she is cold, hateful, lost, and seeking a type of revenge, perhaps to show she is worthy of his love after all (yeah, it is screwed up). Oscar has basically ruined her life (watch and you will see how in gruesome detail), depriving her of any future normal relationship due to his extremes For this reason, she becomes just as cruel (if not more so) than him – in a perverse effort to become like the man she loves.

Even as she matures, she still only exists to others as he defined her from their relationship – that of a sexual object. Oscar stays the same creepy, narcissistic bastard to the bitter end; it is really only Mimi whose personality evolves at all – even if it is in the wrong direction.

There is MUCH more to the movie than be summarized here, and for fear of spoilers I will not go into any detail. But is a film you cannot forget and will want to watch several times. It is dark, brooding and tragic, with complex psychological elements – definitely leaves an impression.

Every guy needs to see this film, if for no other reason than to see the horrors that such selfishness can produce. Sure, not all every woman used and discarded will turn into Mimi, but this movie makes you examine yourself and realize that damage is still being done even if not to such an extreme.

Unless you are just simply not paying attention, you cannot walk away the same person as the story does stick with you. Yes, it is ultimately a love story (Mimi's love story – not Oscar's), but one unlike any you have ever seen before. The movie is deep, thought-provoking, and gruesome. I think you have to be 35+ or emotionally mature to really appreciate or understand its dark beauty and savagery.
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there are better ways to waste your time
minavagante4 November 2000
I can't believe someone posted about this film being excessive as it is about excess; this movie is simply awful, over-rated and badly directed. Last tango in Paris is excessive, Cronenberg is excessive, even some other Polanski movies are excessive and thought-provoking and -yes!- exciting; but this one has no storyline, no character development, no excitement and terrible acting: you can surely find better ways to waste your time.
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As black as they come... but rarely as brilliant- and Coyote is devastatingly good!
ozjeppe4 February 2007
Stiff British couple on an ocean-liner cruise run into, and is spellbound by an American-French man & wife with a highly unusual past... Director Polanski brilliantly brings us this unforgettable, jet-black and haunting story of love and desire, and the threat of pushing them to obsessive limits- you can almost hear the bells of doom ring as the setting of the ship shifts to beautiful Paris and Coyote's voice-over...

Definitely controversial and unsettling, but it's one of those occasions that you just can't resist (like Grant's character does) following characters that aren't necessarily instantly likable. And therein, Peter Coyote excels in an absolutely devastating performance as the failed writer! Borderlines occasionally into sensationalistic kinkiness, but always recovers... not to mention by featuring one of the best (and saddest) endings I can think of.

9 out of 10 from Ozjeppe
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An unsung masterpiece
tieman647 August 2006
Few critics took this film seriously when it was released, but it's now steadily beginning to garner attention. Today it ranks as one of Polanski's best.

"Bitter Moon" is a powerful film about love, and to view it as a sort of a soft-core titillation exercise by Polanski is to miss the point. The up-front sexuality of the film is there, not to merely provoke a cheap arousal from the viewer, but to point out how empty and hollow the couple's relationship really is. Most men will empathise with the morality (or lack of) in this confused relationship between an older man obsessed with his sexual object, and her adoration for him. The haunting reality is that for so many, the lack of depth in a relationship is frightening once the sexual desire diminishes.

9/10 - Filed with lush cinematography and romantic Parisian architecture, the film's only flaw is its Hugh Grant subplot. Everything else is electric, with a dark playfulness that only Polanski can deliver. Worth several viewings.

Note: Peter Coyote's room number, 5A, is the same as Tom Cruise's apartment from "Eyes Wide Shut". Both films have similar themes. When "Eyes Wide Shut" was released, Polanski made "The Ninth Gate", a film which features an "Eyes Wide Shut" styled ritual. Both films are similar in tone.
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Mimi represents the powerful obsession Man has in the quest for splendor on Earth/Oscar Let's it Go
chazz46-28 December 2012
Much has been well described ad nauseum about the plot, music, background, character flaws, etc. of Bitter Moon. Besides all of these truths, there is something else that exists, namely the powerful feminine impact that Mimi portrayed to the extent that it seemed far too real to be left encased in the fantasy realm of movie art. Her character part as well as her actual beauty, dancing talent, and sexuality is the exponent of femininity, grace, and desirability. Men remain tortured by their obsession with everything that Mimi portrayed in the film. Not unlike Jean Seberg in Lilith, whose character mesmerized, beguiled, and commandeered most of those who ran across her path, Mimi had that quality which likewise reaches out beyond the movie itself to ensnare the hearts of all men. Not everyone gets it, but it is plain to see from galleries of fan mail to Emmanuelle Seigner, this one movie part seems to have entrenched her immortality into many men's souls. This gut-wrenching obsession with the magical combination of a certain actress coupled to a script and director brings forth restless insomnia for appreciative men as Seigner has done here. If Jean Seberg did not bring such an obsession, then consider Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Or try Kim Novack in Bell Book and Candle. These are a few of the magical concoctions of film art where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Oscar's character even tries to elevate the beauty and desirability of the less stunning Fiona's character when he says, "But I find your own brand of beauty more that inimitably British quality......a kind of reticence that hints of untapped potentiality." Even Shakespeare, much less Oscar, cannot compensate with words for those who appear limited in physical beauty and sensuousness, while Seigner's beauty portrays endless potential for being tapped, you might say. And Polanski's product leads to a powerful representation of man's instinct and obsession for beauty, sensuousness, and the ideal everyman's woman. We see that Oscar, when given this rare opportunity in the eyes of the average man, totally blows it and ruins a most ideal relationship. Unfortunately, knowing Polanski's historical tragedies, I would think that he is telling us that we are probably no better than Oscar when it comes to successfully nurturing the ideal relationship. ChazzN
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It would be convenient to consider the narrator and his wife to be a couple who simply took their sex games too far
christopher-underwood11 February 2007
The ever underrated Polanski and one of his most underrated and overlooked films. Many have cited as possible reasons the director's difficulties with the US authorities but equally it must be said this is difficult territory. It would be convenient to consider the narrator and his wife to be a couple who simply took their sex games too far and then got their inevitable comeuppance. What we are forced to participate in here, however, is the very ebb and flow of love and lust between two people not afraid to let their passions take them to the edge and even over. The moral of this tale is not that men are evil bastards and women cruelly treated but that we all have those dominant and submissive elements within us that we can use for fun or for real. In the early stages Oscar revels in playing the humiliated one, later the tables turn and finally turn again. Everybody has been known to take a sexually orientated or humorously intended remark or game too far and can surely recognise the elements displayed here even if they are written rather larger than we are used to. A passionate, moving and insightful film.
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Why did I waste my time?
LeeLarch27 May 1999
If this movie had the actors or atmosphere of Blue Velvet, it would have been great. The acting was unbelievable, the atmosphere was like Love Boat and I could've cared less about all of the actors. Polanski's wife was annoying rather than seductive, and how could you break a leg getting hit by a truck and become a paraplegic falling out of bed? Even worse, he seems unphased by losing his ability to walk. Their punk rock phase was laughable. Shall I go on? It certainly is no Chinatown!
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Heartwrenching filthy spectacular
anderssonokompani6 December 2004
Roman Polanski really outdid himself in this original film about lust,perversions,love,dependencies,relationships and the evil of man. All shaped and formed in the city of love,Paris.You're flung to and from Paris on to a cruise on open dark waters.The shift and the graphic story send your sealegs a drift.

Hugh Grant ,in his shy studdering act of a prude sexually frustrated Englishman drawn into temptation by the french vamp,is adorable compared to the other characters in the film.

Curiosity killed the cat!

This movie is at times very erotic and then it slides down to real perversity's.

It captures you and doesn't leave you unmarked.
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"Bitter Moon" knocks off the world-known heavyweight "XXX thriller" champs in the first round
AndreiPavlov30 January 2012
The story unfolds in a rather pessimistic and suicidal manner (similar to the other Polansky flicks). By the end of it the four leading characters are tied up in a highly erratic, erotic, and deadly knot. Personally I had underestimated this film considering it to be some shallow soft porn, but now after watching it, I consider it to be an amazing psychological drama that digs deep into man and woman. The story, however tragic and frantic, looks and feels very realistic. It is shown in vivid colours how a man can frustrate his life and how a woman can fade away under the influence of her partner's cruelty. That's for the story. Just an external layer, to be more exact.

As to the technical side of the production, I would say that the colour scheme of the movie, the shots of the ocean and the wandering ship, the representation of the New Year party (when the booze opens gates to all manner of deviations – with even a couple of karate/kung-fu moves, which you never expected to come), the choice of actors, and their play are all quite impressive. No major changes in any aspect of this film are needed (though it would have been a bit better without certain hot material in the middle of the film, while as you can clearly perceive, the UNSEEN sexual intercourse with the black male dancer IS the breaking point in the story, though not the only one, proving again that often it's what you don't see on screen disturbs the most). The Mimi character is as overwhelming, as only a woman can be.

Once I watched "Basic Instinct" (many years ago) and kind of liked it. Then there was "Lolita". Also found it not bad. "Eyes Wide Shut" was next - found it interesting too. "Dogville" was next and really enjoyed its exploitation hysteria. But "Bitter Moon", touching upon similar topics, simply kicks those four off to non-existence being superior on all levels: the story, the drama, the punch line, the actors' play, the camera-work and the decorations (maybe on a par with "Eyes Wide Shut" in this department), the music (the choice of melodies for the different sets just hits the mark - it is as good as the choice of the music for Rockstar's "Vice City", if you know what I mean), etc. Actually remember watching quite a number of adult thrillers and to me this one is the winner in the category. Being adult with XXX material (meaning scenes of sex), it is not an erotic showcase. It is a showcase of the popular modern way of leading a joyful life of pleasures. It is a showcase of ignorant souls (ignorance is bliss) and malfunctioning bodies, A showcase of a dead end. "To die young is glorious", "Sleep with and impregnate as many girls as possible", "Don't think about tomorrow - it's weakness", "We live only once and should taste it all". Are these mottoes correct? The movie makes harsh statements without being didactic.

If this film is a kind of warning for you – that's pretty helpful, if it's more of a mirror – that's pretty exasperating. But in both cases it's a knife thrown in your lake. There will be crease marks.

It's also one of those rare films when, after watching, I am interested in the career of the leading actors. Their performance here is not just fine, it's freaking on the verge.

Have not expected to give this movie a high mark, but cannot help it. It evokes deep emotions and from now on it is definitely my favourite adult thriller. A 9 out of 10. Thank you for attention.
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Stunning. Why isn't this out on DVD?
Dean_Hannas14 February 2003
Sexy, dark, funny and smart. One of the best and most underrated films of the 1990's. Why isn't this film on DVD? Sure it's not for everyone, sorry Ben Affleck isn't in this one ... Polanski is a master, fearless, one of the all time great film directors. This film shows why. There's my two cents.
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Slave to Love
atzimo27 August 2001
Can a movie get any better than that? I don't think so. Polanski's masterpiece is a statement about how love has no limits and how people are guided by their sexual instincts even if they don't admit it. The film is absolutely perfectly cast and Peter Coyote deserved an oscar. A really beautifully twisted story with unforgettable performances.

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More evidence Polanski is overrated.
=G=18 October 2003
"Bitter Moon" is yet another example that Polanski has made more lemons than lemonade. Telling of a married couple on an ocean voyage who happen upon another couple which invigles them into ridiculous behavior by spinning an equally ridiculous yarn, this tiring soap opera quality flick will wear you out with its monotonous 2.2 hour run. A shabby film which opens with a curious situation, the carrot, which keeps you watching though a seemingly endless succession of flashbacks narrated with horribly sophomoric prose, "Bitter Moon" proves many things...such as Seigner can't dance and Polanski still hasn't mastered the art of keeping his characters in character. As ashamed as I am to say it, the best thing in the flick from my perspective is all the Seigner skin. At least -it- isn't blatant fraud. (C)
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