230 of 238 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Brando Fans, It Doesn't Get Better Than This!
Marlon Brando's recent death affected me deeply. He has always been one of my favorite actors and I truly admire him for his extraordinary talent. During the last few weeks I have rented many of Brando's films and am still amazed, after all these years, at the force of his acting in "Last Tango In Paris." I believe that some of his best work was done in this film...
Published on July 17, 2004 by Jana L. Perskie
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy it for Brando
The film is uneven, with every scene not involving Brando taking an immediate plunge in energy and interest. Fortunately, there is a lot of Brando, and Brando at his absolute best: broken, brooding, continuously near tears or violence, and wracked with obscene despair. One moment in particular, in which he toys, bored, with an old harmonica, then suddenly breaks down...
Published on August 15, 2005 by A. Reader
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230 of 238 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Brando Fans, It Doesn't Get Better Than This!,
Marlon Brando's recent death affected me deeply. He has always been one of my favorite actors and I truly admire him for his extraordinary talent. During the last few weeks I have rented many of Brando's films and am still amazed, after all these years, at the force of his acting in "Last Tango In Paris." I believe that some of his best work was done in this film.
Paul, (Brando), an aging American expatriate in Paris, comes home to discover that his marriage has ended. His French wife, Rosa, had slit her veins, leaving bloody bath water and spattered walls behind. She didn't leave much else - no good-bye note or explanation for her husband, parents or lover, a guest in the fleabag hotel she owned and managed. She did bequeath the hotel, and it's seedy occupants, to Paul. Overwhelmed with grief, Paul walks the streets and finds himself looking at an apartment for rent. He finds Jeanne, (Maria Schneider), a girl-woman, barely out of her teens, looking at the same apartment. She is to be married in a few weeks to her bourgeois, filmmaker fiancee. Paul and Jeanne circle each other warily in the empty flat, each contemplating the rental, (and each other), and wondering who will take it. Suddenly, they grab each other and have hard, fast sex against the apartment wall. Thus begins a most bizarre relationship.
Paul makes the rules. Jeanne must follow them or she will not see him again. Their purely carnal relationship must remain anonymous, emotionless, and exist only within the walls of the apartment, which Paul rents for this purpose. There are to be no sexual taboos between them. He does not want to know her name or anything about her and refuses to give her any information about himself. They are not to see each other outside the apartment confines, nor even leave together. It seems as if Paul wants to bury his pain, his sense of betrayal and hurt in the mindless, sometimes brutal, act of sex. Director Bernardo Bertolucci's camera perfectly captures the impersonal nature of their coupling. The shots are blunt, without sensuality or eroticism, but an enormous sexual energy is captured. I think Jeanne is fascinated by the mystery that is Paul. She is bored, perhaps, and looking for something, maybe excitement. She is certainly intrigued by Paul's dominant role, and seems to enjoy playing the passive partner most of the time. She is clearly not happy with her boyfriend, who relates to her as the object of his latest film. He talks at her, not to her. And he does not listen. However, I do not see Jeanne as merely an object here, as do some others. The film focuses on Paul, not Jeanne.
It is unfortunate that Ms. Schneider's career fizzled after this movie. She is excellent as Jeanne and perfectly captures her character's capriciousness, playfulness, bewilderment, vulnerability, anger, frustration, seductiveness and curiosity. Brando is simply superb. There are times, when he and Jeanne are together, that it appears as if he is extemporizing. He acts as if there is no camera filming him - as if he is not acting at all. There is one scene, where he is alone with his wife's body - she is layed-out in a coffin. Brando begins to speak to her and just loses it. His remarkable outpouring of guilt and grief is probably the best acting I have ever seen.
Towards the end of the film there is a surreal ballroom scene where couples are dancing the tango. It is both haunting and memorable. The end is a bit of a letdown, but in a Brandoesque moment the actor comes to the rescue.
Bertolucci was very effected by the work of painter Frances Bacon, considered to be one of the best artists of the 20th century. He chose Brando after seeing a Bacon painting "of a man in great despair who had the air of total disillusionment." The "Last Tango In Paris," defined as "the most controversial film of an era," brought Bertolucci to international attention. It was nominated for two Academy Awards. Vittorio Storaro's cinematography adds to the cold, remote ambiance. His camera pans the colorless apartment and makes the viewing experience as impersonal as the couple's relationship.
This is obviously not a film for everyone. It has been called obscene, and worse. However, there are many, like myself, who think it is a great film. For fans of Marlon Brando, it doesn't get better than this. Bravo!
62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brando's Best,
If there is anyone out there that wonders why Marlon Brando has
been called the greatest film actor of all time, one need only to
see this film to get their answer. Although it is somewhat dated and certainly not for everyone, Last Tango in Paris is a true
masterpiece of filmmaking.
Tame by today's standards, it is easy to see why 1972 audiences were shocked by its brutal frankness and full frontal nudity. It is a film about isolation, betrayal and confronting
one's own insecurities.
I found the beginning most difficult to believe- middle aged man begins an affair with a beautiful young woman after having met
her only moments before in an empty apartment. And then they
continue to meet for sex even though he insists that they reveal
nothing about themselves beyond the physical act of sex!
Once past this impossible beginning, we begin to learn more about
the characters- he is a lonely widower, she is engaged to a young
film student. She eventually accepts the fact that their relationship is nothing more than sexual.
Maria Schneider is very good in her role as the French girl and she seems completely comfortable with the graphic nude scenes she is in. But it is Brando who commands our complete attention. He dominates every scene and while Schneider spends a great deal of time being naked, he does not yet it is still his character that facinates us.
The film gets bogged down in some areas and many viewers may become bored with the scenes that involve some of the supporting characters. But, and trust me on this, DO NOT miss the scene in
which Brando visits the body of his dead wife. It is not a long scene but it alone is worth the price one will pay for seeing this film- be it in cash and/or time. It is a scene that all students of film and acting should be required to see. Once you have seen it I am sure you will agree- acting does not get any better than this.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad Genius in Paris,
I'm giving this film five stars but I know I couldn't recommend it to everyone I know (especially from the reactions of friends I did encourage to see it!). I found it erotic, unique, personal, and powerful when I saw it in college: two desperate souls trying to appease their inner torment with sexuality and failing miserably.
What's really stuck with me is Marlon Brando's performance. I thought to myself back then, "That didn't look like acting." I read his bio and found out that he WASN'T acting. What you're seeing is an emotional breakdown on film: his weeping is just too raw and severe; he broke his hand when he punched a door during the mother-in-law scene (an action not in the script); the farm tales he tells were from his own childhood; and, perhaps most devastating of all, he rages at his dead wife's body in the film--but he's really dredging up his real-life anger for his alcoholic mother.
Afterward, he was quoted as saying, "I'll never act like that again." And then went on to do THE GODFATHER.
(Another weird detail: Maria Schneider, the young French girl in the film, is the daughter of a former roommate of Brando's.)
It may feel "foreign" in places to an American audience, but this film's scenes of desire, desperation and despair are universal.
48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a sex film,
People who are going to buy this film for erotic content are going to be disappointed. Brando and Schneider are going at each other like two wounded animals passing the time and yelling their hurt at one another. It is mostly Paul who takes the active part, but Jeanne is taking the reality of his lashings as a welcome return to bleak reality from the artificiality of her own personal life and in particular her fiance.
When others complain that outside of the scenes circling Brando the story gets thin, I think they miss the intention of the film. It is this stark naked reality of Brando which drives Jeanne into Paul's arms again and again.
And which culminates in the climax when Paul falls back from essential cruelty, domination and _life_ into superficiality like everything else.
I can't fathom why you'd be wanting to watch this with a romantic interest over a bottle of champagne as somebody else suggested.
The film is deeply unsettling unless you are bereft of any sensibility, and then you probably would not want to let your romantic interest to know.
I don't think that there is any film into which Brando invested more personal energy and life force than this one.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful cinematic experience without flaw,
The reputation of Bernardo Bertolucci's LAST TANGO IN PARIS precedes it. Film critic Pauline Kael famously proclaimed it to be "the most powerfully erotic movie ever made", while the NC-17 rating and a few sour reviews led some to believe that the film was nothing more than high-class pornography. This is one of the greatest tragedies in film history, because, you see, LAST TANGO IN PARIS is one of the very finest films ever made.
True, the film does have four or five scenes of sexuality, some of it a little intense, but nowadays it seems rather tame. The NC-17 rating is silly. Were the film released today, I believe it would grab an R. My point is that, contrary to what reviewers, the MPAA, and even the plotline may tell you, this film is not about sex.
Marlon Brando plays a 45-year-old American living in Paris. His wife recently committed suicide. At the start of the film, Brando goes for a walk through Paris to escape from the confines of his blood-splattered apartment. He happens to be walking the same path as Jeanne (Maria Schneider), a young Parisian dating a filmmaker. The two unknowingly follow each other, as though commanded by fate, to an apartment building, where an apartment has recently been put up for sale. Jeanne, overjoyed, looks the apartment over - only to find Brando sitting in the corner silently. Their brief encounter ends with the strangers having passionate sex against the wall, beginning a relationship that will have an extraodinary effect on each of their lives. The two strangers decide that they will meet regularly at the apartment, but that their relationship will be based strictly on sex. Brando emphasizes that there will be no names mentioned in their time together; the outside world will simply cease to exist.
Brando's character, it turns out, is named Paul. Paul resembles a somewhat kinder Stanley Kowalski from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Whether due to his wife's suicide or simply his nature, Paul acts a little eccentricly. He is usually in a good and playful mood around Jeanne, even when - especially when - Jeanne is not. He always manages to cheer her up. However, outside of their apartment, Paul is often angry, clearly on the edge, torn apart inside by his wife's death. I do not exaggerate when I say that no one but Marlon Brando could play this character. Brando puts equal emphasis on both sides of the character, and in typical Brando fashion he BECOMES the character. I would say that, without a doubt, this is one of the very finest - if not THE finest performance - of Brando's entire career.
Schneider deserves a lot of credit as well. She does a marvelous job of bringing out the confusion and youthful innocence in the character of Jeanne. Ultimately, we sympathize as much with her - perhaps more so - than we do with Brando's character. Schneider also has some wonderful on-screen chemistry with Brando.
Remember when I said that LAST TANGO IN PARIS is not about sex? Well, what it is really about is life and relationships. Through her sexual encounters with Paul, Jeanne becomes closer to him than she does to her own fiance. Paul learns many surprising facts about his wife after her suicide. In what is possibly the film's most moving scene, Paul talks to his wife's body. "Even if a husband lives 200 f-----g years, he'll never discover his wife's true nature," he says. "I may be able to understand the secrets of the universe, but ... I'll never understand the truth about you."
I feel that Bernardo Bertolucci, who directed and co-wrote the film with Franco Arcalli, has not received the credit that he deserves. His directing, in particular, is extraodinary. He gets the greatest performances possible from his cast. He knows the perfect angles to shoot the scenes at, which results in some wonderful cinematography from Vittorio Storaro. There are times when LAST TANGO IN PARIS seems like a very cold film, but through every moment it is bursting with life and vitality.
Much of the film's vigor comes from Gato Barbieri's magnificent music. It's an utterly beautiful score led by dazzling saxophone solos performed by Barbieri himself. It is entirely without flaw. Barbieri's score is undoubtedly one of the greatest in movie history.
My purpose in this review has been to convince you that LAST TANGO IN PARIS is not what it seems. It is such a great pity that the film has become only a minor classic, its reputation made foul by the controversy which emerged after the film's release in 1972. The truth is that LAST TANGO IN PARIS is the reason cinema was invented. It is true art, and in my humble opinion one of the very finest films ever made. Viewing it is a profoundly emotional experience. All I can say to you is to ignore everything you've heard about the film, and to simply watch it. From the opening to the shocking conclusion, LAST TANGO IN PARIS is a true cinematic masterpiece.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One-of-a-kind film with a one-of-a-kind actor,
I first saw this film in a college cinema class. After we watched it, a long discussion ensued, led largely by the feminist-minded females (and males, for that matter), about the number of scenes where Brando was shirtless vs. the number of times Maria Schneider was (mercifully, Brandon kept his Haines on at all times). We talked about how this is a "male-eyed" film, about how Schneider's character is never as fully developed, etc., etc. (Frankly, I think a character who can utter the lines "You treat me like a woahr," is pretty well-developed.)
Almost 20 years later, I realize there's no way a class of 20-somethings could have appreciated what we were seeing, and thus the true greatness of the film eluded young, high-minded college students more interested in Maria's nipples than in Brando's angst. For not once did any of us talk about the shattering scene where Brando confronts his dead wife. If there's anything from Last Tango In Paris I took with me, it's that, and the amazing acting therein. I really don't care about Schneider's boobs, which honestly aren't all that great anyhow.
What makes this film great for me is the structure of an old(er), beaten down cynical man going through grief, who bumps into a young, fresh woman who doesn't really know who she is or why she wants what she wants. Schneider has said that Bertolucci kept her in the dark during much of the filming. One hopes it was to evoke this pure, almost wide-eyed performance from her and not out of any disrespect or cruelty, although Schneider late said she'd never work with him again. Her performance here is effortless. More importantly, there's a chemistry between her and Brando that works. It may seem strange to talk about chemistry in a movie where the male lead rapes and bullies the female lead, but it's there. Watch the scene in the bathroom, where he's shaving, and marvel at the spontaneous-sounding dialogue and the feeling that a real relationship is there.
Brando is perfect for his role. The story unfolds slowly (they'd never make a film with this kind of pacing today), and Brando becomes at least somewhat more sympathetic (and complex) as it goes on. This isn't brute Brando but rather complex, deeply wounded Brando who brings out the brute in him only to keep the world at bay. After his catharsis he shows another side of himself, probably a more typical side, to Schneider and she just can't cope--it's hard for me to tell, even after repeated viewings, if it's because she's getting married to someone else (how happy she'll be remains in serious doubt to me), because she's afraid of a three-dimensional Brando who really seems now to want her for more than casual sex, or what. In some ways the ending was arbitrary, but it still struck me as more plausible and organic than similar sudden endings in The Night Porter and The Marriage of Maria Braun.
Throughout, Bertolucci shoots most of the interior scenes between Schneider and Brando at sunset. Bathed in orange, they have a stillness and yet an intensity the other scenes lack. It seems orange is the color Bertolucci set aside for deep revelations and realizations. The film is distrubing, but somehow also cathartic. The feeling of wanting to say "F--- the world" is one many of us can relate to, something Brando himself did many times in his career.
The print is scratched and the soundtrack somewhat tinny. There are numerous times where dirt or fuzz in the gate can be seen on the top or bottom edge of the frame for whole scenes. This is a film that cries out for a full-blown restoration. The DVD contains nothing else but the trailer, and a strange trailer it is. You'd think a DVD of a movie this famous would feature commentaries, documentaries, where-they-are-now type of featurettes, etc. This classic has been short-changed.
But *do* many people today see Last Tango In Paris as a classic? This is somehthing I wondered as I read reviews online after seeing the DVD. Heralded as a masterpiece and a turning point in cinema when it was released, it is now clear that it was anything but. Rather than continue with personal films that sometimes disturbed the psyche and questioned the soul of the moviegoer, Hollywood and then other filmmakers turned to empty spectacle as the 70s waned, trading boobs for lightsabers. Last Tango was hailed in 1972 as a beginning of a new cinema, but it was also the end of it. With a few exceptions (The Unbearable Lightness of Being comes quickest to mind) this sort of film would never be made again, and Last Tango has become in some ways anachronistic. Just reading the online reviews, most of them probably written by people in their 20s for whom Terminator 2 is an ancient movie, it becomes clear that we don't really understand this sort of picture anymore, and are made uncomfortable by it. There's no simple line of action. There's no "plot." There are long stretches with no dialogue, or at least where the characters don't tell you in dialogue what they are doing. As television and movies have merged in style, technique and subject matter, Last Tango and other films from the period become more like museum relics than living, breathing cinema.
Perhaps that's one reason why we haven't seen a restoration. Unless Criterion gets its hands on this film, I don't have much hopes. Too bad, because Last Tango represents a whole type of filmmaking that's largely unknown today, even to film "students," and if it is known it's becoming more of a curiosity than, as I said, living, breathing cinema. All the more reason to rent this, then, and witness a whole approach to movie-making that no longer exists--certainly not in the USA.
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another brick in the legendary wall called "Brando.",
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Back in the cinematic Middle Ages, a movie that reached too far into the sexual realm -- let alone the psycho/sexual domain -- was considered "too racy" for American sensibilities. "Last Tango in Paris" was such a film. Like a famous painting, we've heard of it, but hardly understand what the fuss is about. And as with any work of art, once experienced, it takes time to fully digest.
This is a dark and surreal film -- you won't be compelled to run through the fields singing like Julie Andrews once it's over. But if you savor stories that delve into the nether regions of the human psyche, it's like a cup of unsweetened, black coffee; strong, with a bitter bite.
My recommendation of this movie is based, almost entirely, on Marlon Brando's performance. Director, Bernardo Bertolucci, is reputed to have spurred him on by relating, "This film is about your psychoanalysis... and mine!" Brando responded by offering us a chillingly realistic portrayal, of a man who's scraping the bottom of the emotional barrel. Among other parts, the infamous "pig scene," and the delirious finale, will -- yet again -- convince you of Brando's monolithic acting talent.
It's regrettable that this film has so many dead spots, and that the tale is too flat. Nontheless, it stands as a notch on the belt of a great actor's career. No Marlon Brando fan should do without it!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bravura Performance by Brando,
This review is from: Last Tango in Paris (Widescreen Edition) [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Since I don't have a copy of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, I watched again for the fifth or sixth time this fine film to remember Marlon Brando on the day of his death. Every time I see this movie I'm amazed all over again at how good it is. Brando, nominated for an academy award for best actor for his performance here, is simply stunning. As always he takes over and commands any scene he is in. When the film was first released, most of the media attention was about the extremely naturalistic sex scenes between Brando, who plays a 45-year-old whose wife has just committed suicide, and Maria Schneider, a beautiful 20-year-old beauty about to be married. Then there was all the hoopla about the episode with the stick of butter, the fingernail trimming scene, etc. What many reviewers and critics overlooked-- as I recall it now-- was at its core this movie is not just another movie bordering on soft porn but makes extremely serious and profound statements about life: who of us can really know anyone else, love can be found in very unlikely places, the undercurrent of violence often connected with sex, all the ramifications of sex with a stranger, and what happens when lust turns into love, for instance.
While Maria Schneider is certainly no slouch-- and a beauty both naked and clothed-- this film ultimately is Brando's. Kaleidoscopically he goes from the comic to rage to uncontrollable anguish and back again. The story is that he improvised many of his lines, giving his performance a very fresh, natural feel.
The film is beautifully filmed and very visual. There are many images repeated-- the overground Metro shots for instance-- and scenes between Brando and Schneider lead into similar frames between Schneider and her young fiancee.
This film is directed by another genius, Bernado Bertolucci and is like nothing else Brando did. He certainly gives one of his finest performances here.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The genius of Marlon Brando,
This review is from: Last Tango in Paris (Widescreen Edition) [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I remember seeing this movie for the first time about a billion yrs ago and thinking, `So THIS is what being a superb actor is all about.' Brando, playing an expat in Paris who is in despair over his wife's very recent suicide, never once seems to be acting, never seems aware of camera or audience, never seems to consider how others will view him or his role or this movie. Unbelievable.
The film was shocking when it was first made in 1973, especially for the graphic and (at that time) `unusual' sexual scenes - and it still makes viewers squirm a bit, but his odd and almost voiceless relationship with Maria Schneider is not self-serving on either end. It's dispassionate and anonymous sex, meant as a Band-Aid on a wound too painful to be dealt with in any other way.
Super, super, super.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy it for Brando,
The film is uneven, with every scene not involving Brando taking an immediate plunge in energy and interest. Fortunately, there is a lot of Brando, and Brando at his absolute best: broken, brooding, continuously near tears or violence, and wracked with obscene despair. One moment in particular, in which he toys, bored, with an old harmonica, then suddenly breaks down weeping like a little boy, leaves you utterly moved and empty. Three stars for the film overall, five for Marlon Brando's wonderful, gutsy performance.
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Last Tango in Paris (Uncut Version) [Blu-ray] by Bernardo Bertolucci (Blu-ray - 2011)