Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Love, The Most Important Thing (1975)

I only recently discovered this masterclass of emotional terrorism and it swiftly became one of my all-time favourites. Granted the odds were stacked pretty favourably that 'Love, The Most Important Thing' would in all probability be an absolute keeper as 1) It was directed by Andrej Zulawski (Possession 1981) 2) It co-starred the delicious, hazel-eyed dreamboat FABIO TESTI! 3) His screen partner being the equally edible Romy Schneider; and if that wasn't enough to give over-zealous europhiles a cinematic aneurysm, Klaus Kinski delivers one of his more nuanced and committed performances here as well. It also must be said that Jacques Du Tronc (an actor I am, sadly, not that familiar with) delivers an utterly spellbinding performance as Schneider's tormented Husband, and he is equally beautiful. To whit there is one particularly potent  sequence with him nonchalantly clumping around his detritus strewn apartment whilst delivering reams of oblique dialogue, dressed solely in a grimy mac and leaden, ill-fitting shoes which is an absolute masterclass of eccentric screen acting, easily rivalling the best of fellow Frenchman Patrick Dawaere. So, as you can see 'Love, The Most Important Thing' (aka) 'L'important C'est D'aimer had the potential to be a most exhilarating experience indeed! One could draw glib parallels to Truffaut (especially the stark early 70's existentialist drama's with Jean-Pierre Leaud), Bunuel or the mighty Rainer Werner Fassbinder; but I feel that Zulawksi is a primal force all to himself; and should really be recognised as one of the all-time great iconoclast film-makers; and I add credence to my bold claim by mentioning the film's utterly devastating and  heart-wrenching opening gambit which concerns an emotional (almost to the point of deathly inertia) actress (Romy Schneider) dressed in a flimsy slip, sitting astride a blood-soaked actor who is feigning some agonizing death throes; while poor, distressed Romy is being repeatedly yelled at by a ruthless female director who barks in great irritation that she must fuck her soon-to-be dead beau with greater conviction; words are impotent here; these are the grim, unsparing visions of a living hell; a disinterested crew glares on in with a collective ennui, as a tear-strewn and profoundly harried Romy reluctantly grinds her hips in a lackluster travesty of lovemaking against the by now inert, crimson corpse; her tatty negligee now be-spoiled with his blood; all the while she intones a dispicable mantra of "I Love you" in a cracked, unpleasant monotone. As she nears a palpable, inexorable breakdown, her harridan director continually screams out a blunt, heartless credo of "more emotion, I don't believe you" "Act! This is why we are paying you!" The irony being, for this viewer at least, I am hard pressed to recollect a sequence so riven with bare, naked potency, and while this grotesque pantomime plays out in the foreground, just off-set we can see a rumpled-looking paparazzi (Fabio Testi) becoming utterly beguiled by the fragile, luminous vision of Romy Schneider; yet he is also visibly repulsed by her plight, since she appears to be mere seconds away from a complete psychological meltdown.  Now I should remind you that this is merely the film's opening gambit, and the density of pathos created is enough to choke a charging Bison!  'Love, The Most Important Thing' is a work of emotional genius and total integrity and I, for one, am all the better for having these beguiling images in my soul.  (If not also a little haunted!)

(I have included a link for those who wish to see this fine film.  Enjoy!)

(A brief glimpse into the tumultuous world of Testi & Schneider)

(Germany's finest!)

(Doomed lovers never looked so beautiful)

(Now one of my favourite sequences, while it is very, very funny it is also loaded with a heady pathos)

(To be honest I don't actually know who I would like to kiss more)

(A wonderfully stark graphic for an equally uncompromising film)

(Hello? Are you aware that I am dashed handsome?) 

(The breath-taking Romy S. #SWOON!#)

(Wonderful still of Romy & Jacques - such power and bitter-sweet sensuality between the both of them both here)

(A still from the film's devastating opening sequence - extraordinary stuff indeed!)

(Testi arrives to photograph an initially playful Romy and ultimately gets far more than he bargained for!)

(The charming rogue Testi enters a maelstrom of marital chaos from which he is unable to leave)

(Romy's world is one of pain)

(Love is the most important thing...Indeed it is!) 

(Beautiful, potent image)

(Sublimely erotic)

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