Finding that his wife Margaret (Rampling) has been lying about her afternoon activities, Peter (Higgins) - a Brit diplomat in Paris - begins to suspect her of infidelity. But when he discovers that her lover is a chimpanzee, he is so taken aback that, instead of yielding to jealousy, he insists on Max moving into the plush apartment the couple share with their young son and a maid. As scripted by Buñuel's frequent collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, Oshima's film bears more than a passing resemblance to the late master's sly, surreal satires on the charmless discretion of the bourgeoisie: eager to hide his shock and anger beneath a mantle of liberal sophistication, Peter merely engineers a situation of futile impasse, while Margaret's amour fou (or is it amour bête?) seems motivated less by passion than by a boredom born of indolence. That said, lumbered with stilted performances from Rampling and Higgins, clearly ill at ease with Anglo-French dialogue, Oshima never achieves Buñuel's cool but mordant tone: despite the potentially subversive material, the film frankly lacks bite. On one level, however, it succeeds: our sympathies rest throughout with Max who, despite his touchy irritability, deserves neither Peter's tolerant condescension nor - and this is perhaps more destructive - Margaret's love.
Cast and crew