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Last Tango In Paris review

Notorious in its day (1972), Bernardo Bertolucci’s carnal anti-romance broke taboos for its graphic depiction of a compulsive physical relationship. Bereaved, middle-aged American Paul (Marlon Brando) embarks on an anonymous affair with a young French woman (Maria Schneider), their sex driven to extremes of abasement and humiliation. Alternately raw and pretentious (semi-parodic scenes with Jean-Pierre Léaud as the girl’s fiancé, a new wave filmmaker, are pretty feeble), Last Tango’s scarcely the unalloyed masterpiece it once seemed. But it’s a serious piece of work that still carries a notable erotic charge. Above all, it captures arguably Brando’s most revealing performance, which is to say, one of the essential performances in all cinema: a lost soul torn between lust, grief, self-pity and self-loathing.

 

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