Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review- French Twist (DVD)


French Twist (DVD)
1996
French (in French Language)/Comedy/m-f, f-f/ Lesbian
104 mins.

Sassy, sexy, and utterly outrageous, this comedy treat received outstanding critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award nomination! Saucy suburban housewife Loli is furious when she discovers her playboy husband is a wild womanizer who has been cheating on her left and right for years! But things take an unusually funny turn when the van of a tough-talking, tender-hearted woman named Marijo breaks down in front of Loli's house! From then on, expect the hilariously unexpected as Marijo and Loli's relationship develops into much more than just a friendship ... and between the two of them, they devise the perfect revenge!

Hilarious, but totally improbable story that uses tons of stereotypes for comedic affect that would never go over if American made. This is what I love about French movies, they go places you’d never see in American films that I find refreshing. French Twist has some really funny, laugh out loud, moments and I enjoyed it even if it was pretty out there.

Loli and Laurent have a nice life in French suburbia. Or so Loli thinks. Laurent is boinking every female that moves, except for her, but she’s oblivious to that. She caught him cheating on her once in the past and forgave him after he said he wouldn’t do it again.

One day, the car of a woman, Marijo, breaks down in front of their house. Marijo asks if she can call to get help and in the meantime fixes a blocked drain for Loli. Marijo is the classic stereotype of a butch lesbian. Even Loli’s son asks about the “man” in the house. Marijo and Loli spend the day chatting and talking about their lives and having a few drinks and things get a little more intimate than either expected.

I will say on this point that Loli seems to be the free and open type and I totally bought that she would be open to advances by Marijo, even though Marijo is older and not a particularly hot physically. Marijo has a certain warmth and easy vibe around her and she rather gently comes on to Loli, which Loli responds to very easily.

Where the fun starts is that Laurent comes home to this “diesel dyke” and wants her out of the house right now because she’s well, a “dyke” and he’s a homophobe and doesn’t like butch dykes. (dyke the word he uses constantly) Loli convinces him to let her stay for a while because she likes Marijo.

To pay back for the help, Marijo insists on taking Loli and Laurent out to dinner and he invites his best friend who wants to meet Marijo thinking it will be fun to mess with her. I know this sounds awful and it is to some degree, but there's pay back. They make continuous offensive homophobic jokes and say things like “well, talking man to man” to Marijo, which she laughs off because she knows something about Loli, they don’t. Heh.

Each of the characters were overtly stereotypical stereotypes for a reason I thought though. Exaggerating the characters’ negative traits do make it easy to root for the wronged character at any point because it’s a fast lane to stir up emotions within the viewer.

Anyway… at the restaurant, Laurent catches Loli and Marijo playing footsy under the table and the shit hits the fan. Suddenly he realizes that his wife can find love with someone else and that he could seriously loose her. TO A “DISGUSTING BUTCH WOMAN!” He can’t believe it; he’s incredulous. How could this happen to him?!, HIM?!!! The tables are turned and this pisses him off. 

He drags Loli off then kicks her out of the house. Then he laments, freaking out to his bud, “for men cheating is nothing, nothing, just fucking. But for women, that’s another story.” Maybe you can see why at this point it does satisfy something for those people in the audience who’ve been cheated on or wronged by an asshole.

The rest of the movie is about how these three people try to get along in this new situation. Loli is not about to lose Marijo who gives her love and attention and whom she’s fallen in love with, Laurent keeps trying to find ways to get rid of Marijo, but puts up with her while trying to win back Loli. And Marijo keeps sticking around because she wants Loli. 

There are lots of twists and turns to the plot, some of which are ridiculous—or it would be the rare people who could manage it. But it is funny and entertaining with the tables being turned on each of the characters at different points. The power shifts often and while in the beginning it’s more about revenge, real feelings develop and mess with these characters.

Eventually we see that the characters don’t totally fit those stereotypes. Laurent and his friend are typical macho, homophobes, but Laurent actually does love Loli and cares about his family. And Loli is not the typical ignored wife without power either, she’s pretty feisty and is willing to exert that power to her advantage. Marijo looks like the gruff, male-ish, aggressive butch lesbian on the surface, and yet she has a huge heart and is really soft and feminine inside, crying over the hurt she’s causing, even over pain Laurent is feeling.

The ending will be a bit surprising to everyone. It’s an ending that would never be accepted by an American audience. And this is another reason why I love European movies. They don’t take the typically moral or traditional viewpoint often and usually end with characters living outside the box. It’s a nice fantasy at any rate.

Who made this film for me was Marijo. The actress who played her was the writer and director of this film. I thought she brought some levity and complexity and humor to what is the typical cheating husband, neglected wife story. The actress who played Loli was pretty amazing as well.

About the lesbian part of this film, I read a few reviews of this movie on Amazon and many just didn’t believe that Loli, who’s a beautiful woman, would go with Marijo who’s not that beautiful and kind of sexually unappealing. But I believed it. One because Marijo is very loving and tender with Loli. It’s something that women want and respond to from any sex. And second, Loli is very passionate, easily following her heart without judgments. And third, I personally found Marijo appealing as a character and as a women. There are a few very nice scenes between the women, naked, in the bathtub or in bed. Or just lying together holding each other and it’s clear they really feel something deeply for each other. It's not erotic though.

I liked that it wasn’t totally the lonely wife gets with a woman story to get back at her man. Loli really loves Marijo and it’s clear that it’s painful for her to lose her. So she chooses to be with Marijo even after Laurent starts acting right and making it up to her. The only time she falters and gets pissed is when Marijo’s old lover shows up. That was an interesting twist as well. And thankfully this didn’t go the way of the “lesbians don’t fall for straight girls, they will break your heart by using you for a brief fling.” Nor did it take the route of preferring the m/f relationship over the lesbian one. There is an happy ending for all.

For those readers of this blog who like the f/f/m polyamorous story, this might make you happy, even if Marijo will never really be a lover to Laurent. It’s a very rare story on that level anyway. I highly recommend this film for the humor and for the fact that it does break all kinds of stereotypes by the end.

Heat level: 2- Actress who played Loli is naked through a lot of the film and there are some m/f and f/f naked in bed scenes. And one very sweet naked bathtub scene with Loli and Marijo.

Grade: A

2 comments:

Eyre said...

Wow! I've actually seen this movie. That never happens. :) It was years ago, but I remember enjoying it.

LVLM(Leah) said...

I'm surprised I hadn't seen it already. I've gone through French films in the past like there's nothing else out there. They are my favorites actually. I love how irreverent they are. snort