Marco Ferreri’s landmark film is an unparalleled orgy of food, sex, and food, that scandalized world cinema when it won the Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics Award in 1973. Both a bawdy tale of wine and women, and an irreverent dig at bourgeois self-indulgence, the films follows four middle-aged professional men (superbly portrayed by Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Piccoli and Philippe Noiret) as they leave their days jobs as pilots, chefs, lawyers and TV producers, and meet for one final orgiastic weekend filled with gourmet food, call girls, and a lusty schoolteacher! As the Bacchanalian feast unfolds, the quartet of gorging gourmands play out a blackly humorous parable of modern societal collapse in a film the New York Times called “vulgar vaudeville on an epic scale…a mordant, chilling, hilarious dirty movie.” More than thirty years later, La Grande Bouffe continues to challenge audiences’ sensibilities and test the limits of good taste.
An agent for a liqueur company, he became involved in the cinema by making short advertising films; later he worked in the production sector and finally in the sale of cinema equipment, moving to Spain. There he met the young humorist Rafael Azcona, with whom he set up an extraordinary, lasting working relationship: the first fruits of their partnership were “El pisito” (1958), “Los chicos” (1959) and “The Little Coach (El cochecito)” (1960), the three “Spanish comedies” marked by a corrosive anti-bourgeois sarcasm. On returning to Italy, Ferreri continued his Spanish theme with “Queen Bee (L’ape regina)” (1963), an anti-Catholic satire in which the institution of matrimony is so fiercely under fire as to unleash the ire of the censor (requiring various cuts in the film and a slight change to the title). He fared no better with “The Ape Woman (La donna scimmia)” (1964), a bitter and lucid parable on the relationships between the sexes, dominated by the exploitation of the weaker sex… read more
After watching this I never, ever want to eat again. This is one of the few films along with Cold Fish and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover that has literally made me sick to my stomach so bad I want to throw up. La Grande Bouffe centers on four middle-aged, middle-class men who abandon their normal, bourgeois lives for a weekend "gastric seminar". In reality they plan to eat and fuck themselves to death. What starts off as a rather cute comedy turns into something close to a horror movie as they push the limits of unrestrained hedonism, and when a not-so-innocent schoolteacher joins the party, things really take a turn for the wild. What is most scary is how La Grande Bouffe is even more relevant today in the age of Girls Gone Wild and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. What has kept Ferreri's movies from aging is that he always maintained an observational stance. He never allowed his own opinions to interfere with what was on screen. In this way, his movies play out like surreal documentaries from a slightly altered reality. He also had a way of exquisitely choreographing his movies in a way that feels as if they are one long, extended movement. And, as always, he worked with top-shelf actors on this one. Michel Piccoli, Marcello Mastroianni, Philippe Noiret, and Ugo Tognazzi are great together, and Andrea Ferreol holds her own against these legends. In the end, though, this is probably my least-favorite Ferreri movie I have seen so far. It is not as beautiful as some of his other stuff, it is a half an hour too long, has a weak ending, and honestly becomes quite tedious at times. A great work, but not a masterpiece.
Starts out cute seeing such great actors together, and could have been really demented in the sense of a film like Salo. But this film panders to the point where I just didn't care, so long as the credits rolled. Sure the performances were great, especially by the Great Marcello Mastroianni, but the direction was just so horrible! A terrible disappointment!
Un capolavoro. Descrizione di una borghesia disgustosa che distrugge per il puro gusto di consumare tutto quello che per loro è accessibile. Idea di partenza fortissima (quasi bunuelliana), messa in scena perfetta e un cast di fenomeni (c'è Mastroianni, pochi cazzi, quando c'è lui in scena è tutta un'altra musica). Nel finale si trasforma quasi in un incubo alla De Sade. Stupendo. 5*