The Last Woman 1976
La dernixc3xa8re femme (original title)
X | 1h 52min | Drama | 21 April 1976 (France)
Gerard and his 9-month-old son have been left by his wife for feminist reasons. The custody of his son is being threatened by his next romance.
Gxc3xa9rard (26 year-old G.Depardieu in a star-making, Cxc3xa9sar-nominated performance) is the he-man single father of a little baby boy who meets carefree, sensuous Valxc3xa9rie (ravishingly beautiful 21 year-old Ornella Muti). They feel instantly attracted to each other, she moves in with him on the spot, they fall in love, she fancies playing stepmother to the baby, he gets jealous, she wants freedom, he gets enraged, she no longer fancies constant love-making, he gets desperate, they quarrel and fight, and things disintegrate until the totally shocking finale knocks you OUT!
This film was banned mostly everywhere outside Europe, including the US – and you won’t find it in VHS or DVD for sale on Amazon, or for rent in your local store. I caught it on Cinemax Cable, late night. It’s a step FURTHER than Ferreri’s previous “La Grande Bouffe” in shocking power and sexual frankness, and so I’ve warned you. In this film, Ferreri questions issues like “couple”, “love”, “sex”, “relationship”, “family”, “woman” and especially “man”. He tells a love story exclusively from a macho point of view: the male characters (primitive, childish Depardieu, phony Piccoli, stupid Salvatori) are shamelessly misogynous and speak out their minds with no censorship or civilized “varnish” — sensibility my a**.
Gxc3xa9rard eats, drinks, bites, sucks, spits, burps, shouts, f***s, harasses, fights, you name it – his bodily needs rule. And most of all, Gxc3xa9rard wonders what is the purpose of having a penis in women lib’s times. The male organ is very much the center of the film, visually as well as metaphorically, representing men’s questionable appendix in a world (Europe in the 70s) where family, marriage and male-female roles were being seriously questioned. In Gxc3xa9rard’s character’s own words, as he holds his son’s penis in his hand: “All we are left with is the right to go around sporting one of these. But now they want to take away our pride in having them – we’re not even allowed that anymore! So what are we supposed to do with them now?”
Depardieu was soon after to become France’s biggest star since Delon/Belmondo. You can really think of no other actor more suitable to portray this childish-gross-larger-than-life he-man than Gxc3xa9rard, with his imposing figure and shameless physicality, total emotional assessment and unbelievable boldness – he’s completely naked most of the time, is shown in explicit masturbation and has some 2 or 3 full erections, one of them in close-up, no body double!! (This was way before Viagra, mind you, and before Oshima, Bellocchio, Von Trier, Breillat, Larry Clark etc.). He was very probably the first major Western star to be shown like “that” in a non-porn film. The final scene in which he finally finds a way to “deal” with his manhood is one the most shocking EVER done.
Ornella Muti’s nude beauty is also largely available here in some daring scenes, though her face is perhaps even sexier than her body – the combination of her catlike, dreamy green eyes, full lips, dark long hair, that lovely gap in her front teeth and the naughty girl-woman expression is very much a promise of liberated but life-changing sex.
“La Dernixc3xa8re Femme” (“The Last Woman”) belongs to Italian director Marco Ferreri’s great films, dealing with some of his favorite themes: destruction of male-female stereotypes, flesh/sex/ physiological urges as symbols of life and mortality, physical disability/decay/deformity/mutilation , all of them treated with highly acid sarcasm, a touch of surrealism, another of depression and a lot of dark humor. Ferreri belongs to a very selected group of rebel, risquxc3xa9 and subversively poetic filmmakers, along with Buxc3xb1uel, Pasolini, Fassbinder, Portuguese Joxc3xa3o Cxc3xa9sar Monteiro and very few others. A one-of-a-kind, he attracted great European stars who worked for him over and over again (Mastroianni, Tognazzi, Noiret, Piccoli, Salvatori, Depardieu, Girardot, Deneuve, Vlady, Schygulla, Muti, Romy Schneider etc etc) because they knew they would be given offbeat, once-in-a-lifetime roles.
Sadly, chances are you won’t probably see a copy of “La Dernixc3xa8re Femme” anywhere, unless you look really hard for it. It contains extremely daring scenes, including Depardieu and Ornella having sex in bed with the baby around; nude Depardieu having his nude infant baby explore (I mean, REALLY explore!) Ornella’s nude body; and another in which he proudly grabs his baby’s willy and points it right at her bemused face. But don’t be mislead: beyond the pleasure of shocking his audience, Ferreri firmly shoots us his uncomfortable questions: what is a modern man to do with/without his penis in (post-)feminist times? What the heck do women WANT from men, after all? If you thought “Sex and the CIty” you’re galaxies away from “La Dernixc3xa8re Femme”.
If you are a Ferreri fan and liked “La Grande Bouffe”, “The Ape Woman”, “The Queen Bee” or “Tales of Ordinary Madness”, you should REALLY try to see this one – I guarantee you will NEVER see anything like it!! Not for the prude, humorless, conventional or romantic.
Director: Marco Ferreri
Writers: Marco Ferreri (story), Rafael Azcona (screenplay)
Stars: Gxc3xa9rard Depardieu, Ornella Muti, Michel Piccoli
Country: France | Italy
Release Date: 21 April 1976 (France)
Filming Locations: Complexe pxc3xa9trochimique, Carling, Moselle, France