Barocco (1976)

Original Title : Barocco
Director : André Téchiné
Writer : Marilyn Goldin
André Téchiné
Genre : Crime
Country : France
Language : French
Producer : André Génovès , Alain Sarde
Music : Philippe Sarde
Photography : Bruno Nuytten
IMDB ID : 0074184
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poster for "Barocco" by André Téchiné (1976)
Barocco (1976) - André Téchiné


Isabelle Adjani Laure
Gérard Depardieu Samson/Samson's Killer
Marie-France Pisier Nelly
Jean-Claude Brialy Walt
Julien Guiomar Gauthier
Hélène Surgère Antoinette
Jean-François Stévenin Jeune homme brun
Jean-François Stévenin Jeune homme brun


The story of Barocco is about a girl (Adjani) that is in love with a boxer (Depardieu). They plan to went abroad after making a lot of money by cheating in a match. But the boxer is killed before, and the killer (Depardieu), little by little, fall in love with the girl (Adjani) that accept him finally at the condition that he looks like the boxer he killed.


A makeover of VERTIGO seems a little besides the point. (possible spoiler) BAROCCO begins with lizards and slime, and ends with a storm.Techine's subject may be what's in between, humans in crisis, but these referants give the film an almost religious dimension, and also a sense of that inbetween, the grey, neither great heights nor depths.Although the drama and Romance of the film's music thrillingly recalls Bernard Hermann, and various plot elements borrow from films such as VERTIGO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST, the film's calm distance prevents it from ever falling into such Hitchcockian traps as narrative excitement or humour. From what I can make out, the film is a political thriller, about how the murky realm of politics infringes on ordinary people, not in the sense of laws and taxes, but literally, in terms of life and death.The film is set on the eve of an important election, which seems less like an open democratic contest than an underworld struggle for power.Samson (Gerard Depardieu), a small-time boxer, is bribed to admit his abuse as a child by one of the candidates. Seeing the money as a possibility of escape for himself and his long-time unemployed fiancee Laure (Isabelle Adjani), he accepts, but under pressure from the other candidate, who gives him the same amount to keep schtum, he decides to scarper with Laure to begin a new life.Before they meet at the train station, however, Samson is kidnapped by the first set of thugs. Laure sleeps all night waiting for him - and this is crucial, because the conventional-enough boxing/gangster melodramatics take a bizarre, dreamlike turn. Suffice it to say, an assassin who is the spitting image of Samson (probably because he's also played by Gerard Depardieu) shoots him.This is a bit confusing for those, like myself, with limited French, but the rest of the film consists of the assassin chasing Laure for the money, and then the two planning escape from the gangsters/politicians/police.The VERTIGO idea of the lead character being forced to paralysingly watch as a lover is murdered reaches itslogical conclusion when Samson's burial is intercut, death and rebirth, with his assassin remaking himself in the boxer's image, just as Scottie did Judy. So, on one level, the story is a gendered reclamation of VERTIGO.Like Scottie, Laure seems to have the active power in a plot which is in many ways about the development of the female character in a male genre.The film opens with Laure masked, like a terrorist or Muslim, wending through bleak fog past an accident, and the film in one way reveals this mystery, removes the misogynistic idea that women are sphinxes to be worked out. But her power is eventually as passive as Scottie's, witness the shocking denouement.There is a very strong possibility, like VERTIGO, that the film is a dream - the splitting of her desire is very Bunuel, and the nocturnal locations, strange plot motivations and stylised movements are very dreamlike. The splitting of the male lead, literalising a metaphorical current in French crime cinema, becomes the determining motif of the mise-en-scene. The film is renowned for both its style and use of colour, and while the latter wasn't much in evidence in the dreadful print I saw (the yellow at the end should GLEAM), the widescreen compositions are highly formalised, symmetrical, reflecting themselves, suggesting wholes the plot continually rupture, and the camera movements constantly travelling right or left, often against the action, ironically creating a static circularity. Unfortunately, like much of the film, this style is neither one thing or the other - it is too stylised to be realistic, but too timid to be outlandishly artificial as a Chabrol. BAROCCO's analysis of power is similarly muted.France in the 1970smust have been a grim time, an inverse to 1968, here revolution is threatened by the 'management', criminality, corruption.But Techine's analysis rarely goes beyond ironically showing smiling posters of candidates, suggesting the complicity the media, or setting political backroom activity in shrouded gangster-like milieux.It seems a pity to invoke Genet with theatrical metaphors and a very public brothel (central here to ideas of family, commerce, politics) and then not to do much with them.
poster for "Barocco"
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Barocco (1976) - André Téchiné