BLu-ray reissue: Bitter Moon (***1/2)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 6, 2019)

Bitter Moon – Kino-Lorber Blu-ray

This 1992 entry from Roman Polanski seems to have been largely ignored and forgotten, but I think it’s due for serious reappraisal (especially considering the popularity of the comparatively juvenile “50 Shades of Grey” franchise…the parallels will become clear as you read on).

Polanski adapted the screenplay (with Gerard Brach and John Brownjohn) from Pascal Bruckner’s novel, which centers on the twisted relationship between a misanthropic paraplegic (Peter Coyote) and his beautiful young wife (Emmanuelle Seigner). The couple’s dark history is recounted in flashbacks as Coyote gleefully shares his increasingly BDSM-leaning tale with a perpetually gob smacked Hugh Grant. Grant plays a young, uptight Englishman who is vacationing on the same cruise ship with his wife (Kristen Scott Thomas). Against his better judgement, Grant finds himself becoming wildly attracted to the flirty Seigner. Are they playing a sick game with him? No spoilers!

I think it’s one of Coyote’s finest performances; even if he does seem cast against type. Dark and disturbing, yet blackly comic (Polanski’s specialty). An intelligently written drama for adults (yes, a rarity). Vangelis did the score. Great transfer, and an entertaining commentary by Troy Howarth.

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