Contrary to what the pop culture might have you believe, sex is more than just an act. It always has been. Sex is an emotion; sex is poetry; sex is a dialogue between two souls, and the Last Tango in Paris goes to great lengths to prove that. Last Tango in Paris, Download & Watch Now
The movie is like fine whiskey; it hits you in stages. Eroticism many have interpreted to be the main theme of the movie, but you would be naive to think it’s all the movie is about. The movie plays with a lot of ideas, one of them being “familiarity is the death of infatuation.” In the very first scene of the movie, we are introduced to Marlon Brando as Paul, who is a brooding, mysterious and enigmatic man.
He is the kind of man young girls secretly wish for, and Jeanne, played by Maria Schneider is no different. She meets him in an abandoned apartment and falls head over heels for him and they have mad sex in the apartment. She plays the submissive throughout the movie, even agreeing to get fucked by a pig and swallow its vomit, just so she could stay with Paul.
Paul is angry over his wife’s death and he takes out his frustration on Jeanne, keeping her spellbound with his machismo. He doesn’t tell her his name nor lets her tell him hers, even though she implores and implores. Staying strangers, they try to know each other only through sex. Towards the end of the movie, has finally come to terms with his wife’s death, Paul finally tells her everything about him, except his name. Jeanne suddenly comes to the realization that Paul is just a 45-year-old widower, and all his charm suddenly turns to ashes. She runs back to her apartment while a half-drunken Paul chases her down the street, their roles reversed.
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Jeanne pulls out her father’s revolver from the cabinet, and in a moment of confusion, ends up shooting Paul. Familiarity is the death of infatuation, literally.
Sex in The Last Tango in Paris isn’t lovemaking. For the most part, it is Paul demeaning and degrading Jeanne, as if trying desperately to prove that he is in control. Paul’s wife, it is shown, also had another lover that he knew about. When you look at the movie from that angle, everything starts to make sense. Having been a cuckold, it is understandable why Paul is so desperate to establish his dominance over Jeanne.
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The movie comes as a shock to many because the actors do an incredible job of portraying the characters, especially Marlon Brando. As grotesque as his actions might be, Brando makes the character so real that you end up sympathizing with him. He lets you step into Paul’s shoes, and while you do not want to be that person, you’re afraid that you very well might be. That is probably the reason why so many people find this movie offensive.
Props must be given to Bernardo Bertolucci as for creating this timeless piece of art. The direction of the movie is a major reason why the actors shine the way they do. The lingering eeriness created by the shrewd direction adds a very sordid yet addicting flavor to the movie. It’s always a gamble to create a movie centered on just two characters, but Bertolucci truly hit the jackpot with this one.
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There is much that can be said about the movie due to its nature but I digress. This movie will go down in the annals of history along with all-time greats and people will be discussing it as long as movies are made. So I leave it to the future critics to fish out something new, something is hidden in Brando’s whispers and Maria’s giggles.