Going Places Blu-ray Review: Traveling Nowhere, Reaching Enlightenment

The title of this 1974 French film is somewhat ironic, considering the rudderless path of its twenty-something drifter characters. Co-written and directed by Betrand Blier, the film is insanely stacked with French film royalty including Gerard Depardieu, Jeanne Moreau, Miou-Miou, and Isabelle Huppert. The story plays out something like Easy Rider without the motorcycles, as two counterculture young men let the id run wild regardless of consequences.

Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere star as the young drifters, anarchic losers who coast from one misadventure to the next with absolutely no forethought. After stealing a car for a joyride and then attempting to return it, they meet the wrath of its owner, a pimp with a gun and a comely young lass (Miou-Miou) on his arm. One scuffle later, they end up with the car, gun, and girl, setting them off on a road trip consisting of an ever-changing rotation of hot cars and hot women.

Depardieu is a revelation as a svelte young punk, exhibiting the edgy magnetism that had already faded by the time he made his mark in the U.S. years later. He’s given a run for the money by the veteran Moreau, smoldering and luminous in her brief role as a newly released prison inmate who loves the attention showered on her by the infatuated young men. Although Huppert doesn’t show up until the final ten minutes, she also makes an impression as a 16-year-old tired of playing by her family’s rules and only too happy to run off with the boys.

The transfer for the new Blu-ray is mostly clean, with just a minor sprinkling of specks. Judder has been corrected, with rock-solid titles and credits. The picture is formatted at 1.66:1, leaving small bars on the sides of the screen. Sound is presented in “dual mono” with no noticeable hiss. Although there are no bonus features, an optional audio track presents commentary by a film studies professor. 

Blier delights in keeping us off balance, never quite sure where his free-wheeling tale will take us next. This is nowhere more evident than in the abrupt departure of Moreau’s character, although the film is peppered with other shocking acts of violence and debauchery. The lead characters are deplorable, but somehow Blier makes us care about them as they move from open sexual assault in the early stages to something approaching genuine affection and tenderness for the three principal female characters. Blier’s film is a marvel, a story about small-time crooks that manages to steal our hearts.

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Steve Geise

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