La Grande Bouffe

Four upper middle class gents retreat to the suburban townhouse that belongs to one of their number. Their intention is to spend the weekend indulging in a gluttonous feast of epic proportions. Food of the highest class is ordered in copious amounts and with one of the friends being a master chef the culinary delights are sure to be first rate. However there is a twist to the debauchery in that they are going to take gastronomic consumption to the limit and beyond.

A judge, a television producer, a pilot and a master Chef have for whatever reason decided life has become bland. Their solution to shuffle off the mortal coil via a grand blow out. Their weapon of choice is not the rope, the blade or the bullet. For these seemingly successful men, their end is to come via the continuous consumption of food over a weekend. After arriving at their destination they make themselves comfortable and set about planning their meals with military precision. How ever it's not long before the Italian friend states that food and alcohol alone are not enough, he can't make it to the end without fornication. Three local prostitutes are summoned and soon the Bouffe descends into an orgy. Also invited by chance is a local schoolteacher who the men worry may not be able to take the pace. However it soon becomes clear her veracious appetites for food and sex far outstrip their own. As the Italian friend soon points out, they have chosen a disgusting way to die. By the second day the prostitutes have left sickened. The toilet has exploded spraying one of the men with copious amounts of shit and stinking out the house. One of the men is having a serious problem with flatulence, which leads to one of the most disgusting ways to go out ever put on film.

Marco Ferreri's La Grande Bouffe won the Fipresci award at the Cannes Film Festival. Italian director Ferreri's film is Art House, but it's of the boundary pushing type and not the bland and pretentious type that many recognise as Art House movies. While La Grande Bouffe does take a "swiftian" style poke at the French bourgeoisie, you can take of leave that as you wish. Where the film excels is in its study of stoic, sickening self indulgence. At first the characters indulge in the purely hedonistic pleasure of food, drink and sex. How ever as the film continues the consumption becomes far from pleasurable as they continue to cram food into their gullets with sickeningly grim determination. La Grande Bouffe is a lesson against excess with food in the way Scarface or The Boost are for Cocaine. At first the viewer revels in the way food is lovingly prepared and consumed, but as the film goes on its consumption becomes grueling. The diners have found an extreme sport that participants can do while seated. There’s no real story of narrative here, but the performances are all first rate and carry the film. A very strange mix of humor and the morose, enjoyment and disgust. At first all the food preparation made me hungry, but by the end of the film the last thing I felt like doing was eating. I love the way "Art House" can get away with a man led on his back being spoon fed as he eats himself to death while a fat semi naked woman masturbates him to climax ... but hey it's art!

A beautifully disgusting, very European look at bourgeoisie excess taken to the extreme, which may turn even the strongest stomach.