Co-written and directed by Bertrand Blier, adapted from his own novel, Going Places is a gleefully amoral French comedy about two low-level criminals living lives with no clear direction. While it was intended as a social satire commenting on the complacency of middle class in modern French society in the 1970s, many found the vulgarity hard to swallow. It wasn’t until critics reevaluated the film years later that some began to proclaim it as an underrated gem. While this may be true in terms of filmmaking, the foul behavior of the anti-heroes remains just as unpleasant today.
The aimless thieves Jean-Claude (Gérard Depardieu) and Pierrot (Patrick Dewaere) harass women and steal from just about everyone they come across. When they meet a hairdresser named Marie-Ange (Miou-Miou) after stealing a car for a joy ride, the young woman provides them with a sexual exploit and third partner. Together they go on a series of misadventures, though the film doesn’t have a plot so much as a series of vulgar scenes in which the men are sexually abusive. Disappointed by Marie-Ange’s inability to orgasm, the pair briefly leave her behind to try and find a more suitable sexual partner to satisfy.
In the context of the satirical message about French society, Going Places may be brilliant in its own unique way. But that doesn’t make it any less problematic, especially within the current cultural climate. The treatment of women within the film as mere objects is difficult to overlook, especially in the final sequence involving a young Isabelle Huppert. It is telling that the American remake, The Jesus Rolls (which also served as a loose spin-off of The Big Lebowski), was also met with mixed reviews. Some of these plot elements are simply hard to accept, even when given a comedic tone.
The Cohen Film Collection Blu-ray release of Going Places does look fantastic, though it did not change my opinion of the movie itself. Along with the high definition presentation, there is also a feature commentary track by Columbia University professor film studies Richard Peña.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 6/10