Marco Ferrerri's outrageous 1973 black comedy about four friends who meet for a weekend of gluttony looks dated
The story goes that, following the French premiere of this notorious 1973 shocker, screen goddess Catherine Deneuve refused to speak to her boyfriend, the film’s star Marcello Mastroianni, for a week. Whether it was content or quality at issue remains unknown, but we can’t really blame her. It’s awful.
Mastroianni plays one of four male, middle-class friends who retire to to a large urban mansion to literally eat themselves to death. The reasons for this remain unclear – the film isn’t really concerned with character – but the effects are predictably grotesque, particularly when three prostitutes and a buxom female teacher arrive to swell the party.
Director Marco Ferrerri presumably had some kind of radical, philosophical justification for all this – a symbolic attack on bourgeois excess, perhaps, though that’s not exactly original. But in a modern context, the film just looks crass, shallow and self-satisfied. And in the post-’Human Centipede’ world this kind of behaviour isn’t really shocking any more – the most outrageous thing here is the farting, which is hardly a recommendation.
It’s a fine-looking film – the internal decor is spectacular – and there are a handful of memorable moments, including the sight of Mastroianni drenched in a fountain of human shit. But as ‘La Grande Bouffe’ trudges between scenes of culinary and sexual excess with grim determination, it becomes impossible to care who’s stuffing what in where.
Cast and crew