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EVENING DRESS

France, 1986 (MIFF 1986)

Director: Bertrand Blier

The surprise of this year's Cannes festival, TENUE DE SOIREE (EVENING DRESS) marks a much-awaited return of veteran writer/director Bertrand Blier. It is a black comedy in which Gerard Depardieu plays a burglar who drags a down-and-out couple, played by Miou-Miou and actor/director Michel Blanc, into a series of housebreakings. Unpredictably, the two men fall in love — with each other: Depardieu, initially a dark angel, eventually provides Blanc's vengeance for his mercenary behaviour.

What might have been a gay variation on the romantic triangle, is here rendered with raw cynicism thanks to Blier's deft scripting and confident direction. Caustic and shrewd, it is visually reminiscent of Blier's rarely seen 1980 comedy BUFFET FROiD (COLD CUTS). Well paced and impressively edited, Blier has recovered, in the words of Variety, "the abrasive imagination and tonic bad taste that fired some of his early films".

Featuring the very actors whose careers were launched with Blier's debut LES VALSEUSES (GOING PLACES), such uncharacteristic casting of Gerard Depardieu and the rakish Michel Blanc has been interpreted as a playful jab at the French star system.

Blier modestly has this to say of his film. "My story doesn't sum up to anything. It's Just a story with a beginning, middle and an end. Round about the middle, you'll see it's pretty fantastic."

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