AKA Cold Cuts
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“The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.”–André Breton
DIRECTED BY: Bertrand Blier
FEATURING: Gérard Depardieu, Bernard Blier, Jean Carmet, Geneviève Page, Carole Bouquet
PLOT: Soon after telling a man in the Paris subway about his fantasies of committing murder, Alphonse discovers the man dying with Alphonse’s own switchblade in his chest. Rushing home, he teams up with a police inspector and a hapless criminal who confesses to killing Alphonse’s wife. The trio goes out into the world, confronting both a variety of people who wish to kill them or to be killed by them.
- Writer-director Bertrand Blier won the César (France’s Oscar) for Best Writing for Buffet Froid. The film was also nominated in the cinematography, editing, and production design categories.
- Buffet Froid feels very Buñuelian, even more so since Blier cast two actresses who had previously worked on Luis Buñuel films: Geneviève Page and Carole Bouquet.
- Bernard Blier (Inspector Morvandieu) is the director’s father. It was his third appearance in one of his son’s films.
- The role of the man harassed by Alphonse in the subway is played by an uncredited Michel Serrault, who is probably best known as Albin in the original La cage aux folles.
- The opening scene is set in the Metro station at La Défense, which now sits directly underneath the monumental La Grande Arche building in the Parisian suburbs.
- The film was not released in the United States until 1987. American critics were fiercely negative.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: It’s tempting to select the terrific jump cut when the leading trio is informed that they need to relax, and suddenly find themselves convalescing in front of a rustic cottage in the woods. But for a singular image, there’s great spectacle in the moment when a policeman responds to an emergency call only to find that he himself is the victim. His wide-eyed horror at being ushered into his deathbed while a string quintet assembles to serenade him into the great beyond is unforgettably hilarious.
TWO WEIRD THINGS: The widow moves in; assassin gets a head start in the water
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Buffet Froid is epic in its underplaying. Forget consequences; it posits a world where crime doesn’t pay because it doesn’t matter. The body count wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood thriller, but a strange combination of fear of dying and reluctance to be caught underlies everything. It’s telling that Alphonse doesn’t lose his cool when he finds his own knife sticking out of a dying man, or even when he discovers his wife’s murder (and murderer). No, it’s only when a man tells him bluntly, “Accept your responsibilities and I’ll be on my way” that he stops dead in his tracks. Buffet Froid depicts a world gone mad, but in the most controlled way possible.
Trailer for Buffet Froid
COMMENTS: Buffet Froid lays out its premise almost immediately. Continue reading 35*. BUFFET FROID (1979)