Une Partie de Plaisir


1h 41m 1974

Film Details

Also Known As
Love Match, Piece of Pleasure, A
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1974
Distribution Company
Curzon Artificial Eye

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m

Synopsis

Film Details

Also Known As
Love Match, Piece of Pleasure, A
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1974
Distribution Company
Curzon Artificial Eye

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m

Articles

A Piece of Pleasure (Pleasure Party)


Following a streak of astonishing thrillers in the 1960s mostly starring his wife, Stephane Audran, director Claude Chabrol took a strange turn in the next decade with a number of bizarre international co-productions often far removed from his usual studies of domestic nightmares. Closest in spirit to his previous work but far more disturbing is Une partie de plaisir, issued on DVD under the misleadingly prurient title of The Pleasure Party. (The title more closely translates as "A Piece of Pleasure.")

The film begins on a rocky beach as a seemingly happy couple, gray-haired and muscular Philippe (Paul Gégauff) and lithe brunette Esther (Danièle Gegauff), casually mutilate crabs as bait while their child cavorts near the waves. Back home at the dinner table Philippe casually indicates to Esther that he'd like to test a pet theory that married people who sleep with others aren't cheating; they're simply enhancing their marriage. Esther doesn't seem too wild about the idea but decides to pick a partner from an upcoming dinner party; fortunately Philippe has been less than faithful himself, which makes the adjustment easier. Esther opts for Habib (giallo staple Giancarlo Sisti), whom neither spouse seems to particularly like. However, she soon finds herself responding to her new lover, igniting a nasty jealous streak that results in Philippe trying to control every aspect of her life. Not surprisingly, things do not turn out well.

While this film might seem on the surface like another Chabrol excursion into the hell of modern marriage, the proceedings are given sickly, fascinating extra layers of meaning when one considers the project's history. The script was written by Gégauff, who penned such landmark Chabrol titles as This Man Must Die and Les Biches; however, this particular work was based entirely on the disintegration of his own marriage, painting himself in a most unflattering light. Yves Montand was cast in the lead role but walked shortly before production; next up was Jean-Louis Trintignant, who similarly balked at the character's extreme behavior. Finally Gégauff offered to play the role himself, but Chabrol insisted in that case that the role of Esther could only be played by its real-life inspiration, Gégauff's ex-wife Danièle. As a result, the viewer is left with the surreal experience of watching a real divorced couple reenacting the brutal circumstances of their separation with a fictitious, murderous turn near the end. As if that weren't enough, Gégauff went on to remarry and write a number of other films, only to be stabbed to death by his second spouse in 1983. If this confessional on film is any indication, she might have had just cause.

Aesthetically the film also feels like something of a hybrid, mixing Chabrol's patented visual fixation with architecture and landscape with cinematic techniques he usually avoided like frequent and rapid zoom shots and even an atypical slow motion passage at the end. The result is a darker and more claustrophobic film than one might expect, foreshadowing his later, more oppressive films like La ceremonie and the similarly plotted L'enfer. Gone is the traditional minimalist underscore common in his other thrillers; here we have the soothing strains of Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert, sparingly used to add an elegant counterpoint to the increasingly barbaric behavior in the film.

As an entry in Pathfinder's ongoing series of important Chabrol releases, The Pleasure Party falls in line with the quality standard one might expect, i.e., fine but not great. The letterboxed image (not 16x9 enhanced) is a significant improvement over the dupey-looking VHS releases but still looks on the dull side; the deliberately desaturated cinematography may also be to blame. Print flaws are obvious in a few scenes, but overall it's a watchable presentation and at least free of the distracting PAL-conversion glitches found in a handful of other titles like This Man Must Die. The optional English subtitles are well-rendered and easy to read, also an improvement over the bleached-out, illegible ones from past releases.

The extras are more substantial than one might expect for a lesser-known Chabrol film, beginning with a thorough and often interesting audio commentary by screenwriter/critics Dan Yakir and Ric Menello. The former's thick accent notwithstanding, it's an easy track to digest and is largely textual in nature, pointing out symbolic and technical aspects of the film while offering an occasional tidbit of historical info. Unlike most directors there isn't anything terribly salacious or invigorating about Chabrol's behind-the-scenes behavior, so analyses of his films tend to be oriented to readings like this. For some reason the discussion kicks off well into the film after the opening titles and doesn't seem in synch with the film, but fortunately the discussion is mostly not scene specific.

Also included is a theatrical trailer (in French, no subtitles), a stills gallery, talent bios, and a very long (47 minutes!) audio interview with Chabrol, recorded in 1977 during the production of Blood Relatives. The chat only briefly touches on the film at hand when discussing the director's working relationship with Gégauff; otherwise it's a handy career overview, focusing on Chabrol's fascinations and preferences as a filmmaker and how he sees society. Luckily his view is usually a bit more optimistic than this, one of his darkest and most challenging films to date.

For more information about The Pleasure Party, visit Pathfinder Films. To order The Pleasure Party, go to TCM Shopping.

by Nathaniel Thompson
A Piece Of Pleasure (Pleasure Party)

A Piece of Pleasure (Pleasure Party)

Following a streak of astonishing thrillers in the 1960s mostly starring his wife, Stephane Audran, director Claude Chabrol took a strange turn in the next decade with a number of bizarre international co-productions often far removed from his usual studies of domestic nightmares. Closest in spirit to his previous work but far more disturbing is Une partie de plaisir, issued on DVD under the misleadingly prurient title of The Pleasure Party. (The title more closely translates as "A Piece of Pleasure.") The film begins on a rocky beach as a seemingly happy couple, gray-haired and muscular Philippe (Paul Gégauff) and lithe brunette Esther (Danièle Gegauff), casually mutilate crabs as bait while their child cavorts near the waves. Back home at the dinner table Philippe casually indicates to Esther that he'd like to test a pet theory that married people who sleep with others aren't cheating; they're simply enhancing their marriage. Esther doesn't seem too wild about the idea but decides to pick a partner from an upcoming dinner party; fortunately Philippe has been less than faithful himself, which makes the adjustment easier. Esther opts for Habib (giallo staple Giancarlo Sisti), whom neither spouse seems to particularly like. However, she soon finds herself responding to her new lover, igniting a nasty jealous streak that results in Philippe trying to control every aspect of her life. Not surprisingly, things do not turn out well. While this film might seem on the surface like another Chabrol excursion into the hell of modern marriage, the proceedings are given sickly, fascinating extra layers of meaning when one considers the project's history. The script was written by Gégauff, who penned such landmark Chabrol titles as This Man Must Die and Les Biches; however, this particular work was based entirely on the disintegration of his own marriage, painting himself in a most unflattering light. Yves Montand was cast in the lead role but walked shortly before production; next up was Jean-Louis Trintignant, who similarly balked at the character's extreme behavior. Finally Gégauff offered to play the role himself, but Chabrol insisted in that case that the role of Esther could only be played by its real-life inspiration, Gégauff's ex-wife Danièle. As a result, the viewer is left with the surreal experience of watching a real divorced couple reenacting the brutal circumstances of their separation with a fictitious, murderous turn near the end. As if that weren't enough, Gégauff went on to remarry and write a number of other films, only to be stabbed to death by his second spouse in 1983. If this confessional on film is any indication, she might have had just cause. Aesthetically the film also feels like something of a hybrid, mixing Chabrol's patented visual fixation with architecture and landscape with cinematic techniques he usually avoided like frequent and rapid zoom shots and even an atypical slow motion passage at the end. The result is a darker and more claustrophobic film than one might expect, foreshadowing his later, more oppressive films like La ceremonie and the similarly plotted L'enfer. Gone is the traditional minimalist underscore common in his other thrillers; here we have the soothing strains of Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert, sparingly used to add an elegant counterpoint to the increasingly barbaric behavior in the film. As an entry in Pathfinder's ongoing series of important Chabrol releases, The Pleasure Party falls in line with the quality standard one might expect, i.e., fine but not great. The letterboxed image (not 16x9 enhanced) is a significant improvement over the dupey-looking VHS releases but still looks on the dull side; the deliberately desaturated cinematography may also be to blame. Print flaws are obvious in a few scenes, but overall it's a watchable presentation and at least free of the distracting PAL-conversion glitches found in a handful of other titles like This Man Must Die. The optional English subtitles are well-rendered and easy to read, also an improvement over the bleached-out, illegible ones from past releases. The extras are more substantial than one might expect for a lesser-known Chabrol film, beginning with a thorough and often interesting audio commentary by screenwriter/critics Dan Yakir and Ric Menello. The former's thick accent notwithstanding, it's an easy track to digest and is largely textual in nature, pointing out symbolic and technical aspects of the film while offering an occasional tidbit of historical info. Unlike most directors there isn't anything terribly salacious or invigorating about Chabrol's behind-the-scenes behavior, so analyses of his films tend to be oriented to readings like this. For some reason the discussion kicks off well into the film after the opening titles and doesn't seem in synch with the film, but fortunately the discussion is mostly not scene specific. Also included is a theatrical trailer (in French, no subtitles), a stills gallery, talent bios, and a very long (47 minutes!) audio interview with Chabrol, recorded in 1977 during the production of Blood Relatives. The chat only briefly touches on the film at hand when discussing the director's working relationship with Gégauff; otherwise it's a handy career overview, focusing on Chabrol's fascinations and preferences as a filmmaker and how he sees society. Luckily his view is usually a bit more optimistic than this, one of his darkest and most challenging films to date. For more information about The Pleasure Party, visit Pathfinder Films. To order The Pleasure Party, go to TCM Shopping. by Nathaniel Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1974

Released in United States March 1976

Released in United States 1974

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Contemporary Cinema) March 18-31, 1976.)