A pair of





In a pair of brilliant films, Max Ophuls, the Frenchman of German origin, and Italian Marco Ferreri offer the viewer unexpected perspectives on pleasure.

For both sexes, when pleasure leads to happiness, it is not always a bowl of cherries! Proclaiming the premise in films like Le Plaisir (1952) and The Conjugal Bed (1963) is nonetheless marvelously ironic, bordering on the sarcastic. In an adaptation of three short stories by Guy de Maupassant collected under the title Le Plaisir, Ophuls presents in an endless round of girls thrilled to be with men, and the men who give in to their pleasure.




A chaotic mess of melancholy, sometimes male, with its aging gentlemen or naive peasant, unwilling to see the object of their pleasure fly away; and sometimes female, with its cigarette-smoking women, who sing with eyes half-shut while peering into the distance, Ophuls' Le Plaisir joins Ferreri's The Conjugal Bed towards the same destiny: nowhere! And herein lies their greatness, especially when the pleasure is ludicrously restrictive… The self-assured, forty-year-old hero (Ugo Tognazzi, loveably ridiculous) of The Conjugal Bed consents to marry his young virgin cousin (the exquisite, impenetrable beauty, Marina Vlady). When the off-the-charts libido of his wife endangers his health, the new husband does not know how to escape the pleasure! Admirable, moving, and satirical, Le Plaisir and The Conjugal Bed, without going overboard, reinvent the vertiginous notion of pleasure.


Virginie Apiou

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