The film is about two male dreamers who have sexual orgies in Paris in the intervals when they have money. At other times they are looking for something to eat.
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Always liked Henry Miller. As long as I’ve known him. Even when I didn’t yet know of his existence or his work, I still liked him. Even when I met his awkward wannabe Bertrand Blier, who wrote the scandalous novel ‘Waltzing’ (which I read, much earlier than ‘Tropic of Cancer’). I liked the determination of Miller, who, without any external marker for world recognition, still achieved it. I respect, immensely respect, his uncompromising nature. Imagine how difficult it was for an American to give up his empire and make Europe his home forever.
That is why every film adaptation is of great interest to me. Especially since this film combined two of Henry Miller’s literary works at once, Quiet Days in Clichy and Mara of Marignan.
The story of Mara is much later screened in the anthology ‘Women and Men: Stories of Seduction’ by Mike Figgis. I still remember the passion with which Binoche and Scott Glenn played their roles. I also remember Binoche’s final tantrum. It was superb.
In our case, however, the Mara story was very mediocre. The director restricted himself to just the story, not particularly emphasizing the viewer’s attention to refinements: camerawork, pace, acting, light.
On cloudy days in Paris, I often found myself on the outskirts of Place Clichy in Montmartre. From there, in the direction of Aubervilliers, an endless line of cafes, restaurants, theaters, cinemas, haberdashery shops, hotels, and brothels stretches. It is Paris’s Broadway… (Henry Miller)
All in all, the atmosphere of Paris succeeded. Sometimes I felt like I was watching an early Godard – everything was going somewhere, rushing by. When Henry’s character was walking through town, you could feel the atmosphere of that very Parisian aesthetic.
Any way you like, top, back, mouth, whatever you like,” she said, sipping her tea with the look of a duchess at a charity fair. – By the way, my breasts are still firm and beautiful,” continued our visitor, unbuttoning her blouse and showing off her tempting hemisphere. (Henry Miller)
Prostitutes, ‘elegant’ ladies, lunatics, an underage girl – all merge in a single stream. And the director is not shy about showing nudity and sex. The viewer is shown quite monotonous close-ups, frankly and without bashful blush. In my opinion this is correct, for one cannot talk about Henry Miller’s work without calling things by their proper names. And if in the book he reflects poetically on the female vagina, it makes perfect sense to show it in the film. Still, Miller is not just a scandalous foul-mouthed and vulgar man. In describing his dissolute life, in describing prostitutes, he tried to find something more important… He simply chose an interesting background, reflecting on the meaning of life. And this is the very depth that was missing from the film. The naked ‘women’ and Miller’s lyrics just bring the film closer to his work, but nothing more.
It’s crazy to keep begging and begging for money. Money, money. No money. Lots of money. Yeah, getting as far away from here as possible. Taking nothing with me-no books, no typewriter. Nothing to talk about, nothing to do. Just go with the flow. (Henry Miller)
The line with the total lack of money is shown. That said, the director doesn’t really focus on such details. Although, it is the economics that Miller focuses on. His relationship with Mona, which he describes in almost every novel, was crushed by the question of money. It is an issue of his personal pain. In the film, however, these issues are simply mentioned.
So, compared to other adaptations of Henry Miller’s works, I find this film very interesting. First of all due to the courage of the director, who was not afraid of explicit scenes. The expected depth was not there at all.
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (69.3 Mb/s)
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.66:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: Dolby Digital 1.0
English SDH, French, Spanish.