DIRECTORS' CUT / Les Valseuses: Andre Bonzel and Benoit Poelvoorde on Blier's Les Valseuses

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The Independent Culture
THERE'S a scene in Bertrand Blier's Les Valseuses where these two youths, played by Gerard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere, break into a family's holiday villa out of season, and ransack it, for kicks, not because they want to steal anything; they just want to sleep there. They're curious, like a couple of little boys. As soon as they realise a young girl has been living there, they're keen to know more. They go into her bedroom, find her underwear and try to guess her age from it. Dewaere feels the shape of her bra and says, 'she must be just 13', but then Depardieu sniffs her panties and says: 'no, she must be at least 16'.

The word he uses is bouquet, like a wine. He talks about it with an extraordinary sense of poetry - it's great dialogue, without being presented as such. They're a couple of thugs, but Blier gives them both a nobility. At the same time, this is a dreadful invasion of privacy. We find that scene magnificent because it's something very difficult - we've talked to people who have been burgled and they said the most upsetting thing was not being burgled, it was the fact of having someone in your home. So it's very hard to watch that scene, but Blier makes it funny and poetic.

The film takes an incredibly banal subject - two men who go on the road, and do hardly anything at all. The pleasure of it resides in Blier's mise en scene and dialogue. And we like the film's freedom - the fact that it was so shocking for when it was made (1974). It really captures the feeling of that time. But unlike some films which do that and look very dated and disappointing when you see them 10 years later, you can watch Les Valseuses over and over again.

Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde and Remy Belvaux's first film, 'Man Bites Dog', continues to play at selected cinemas.

(Photograph omitted)

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