Grande Bouffe, La

Director: Marco Ferreri
Year Released: 1973
Rating: 3.0

This film has a notorious reputation that it probably deserves - Ferreri's overwrought moral fable about four men who gather, one weekend, to literally eat themselves to death on the finest food in the world is revolting, shocking, but also wickedly entertaining, primarily because both the director and his cast (which include four famous actors) are so proficient. They concoct elaborate meals, refuse to stop gorging themselves even when they get ill and, to complete things, drag over to their house three prostitutes and an overly sexual schoolteacher to join in the festivities. The fact that the actors are all famous - and their characters' names in the picture are their own - blurs reality and fiction. How much of the real 'them' is on the screen? Did Ferreri write it for 'them' or are they just playing out their stereotyped roles (Mastroianni's character, "Marcello," is sexually ravenous ... like all the other roles he's had in his career)? It's not only a statement about the male mid-life crisis, but about society's gluttonous, insatiable appetite for sex and food (or both, simultaneously). Wears real thin way before its final credits roll (it's about twenty minutes too long), but still daring ... and fascinating.