APPRENTICE, THE (FLEUR BLEUE) (director: Larry Kent; screenwriters: Edward Stewart/story by Kent and Stewart; cinematographer: Jean-Claude Labrecque; editor: John Broughton; music: Steve Fiset/Luc Plamondon; cast: Susan Sarandon (Elizabeth Hawkins), Carole Laure (Suzanne), Celine Bernier (Michelle), Gerard Parkes (The Professor), Jean-Pierre Cartier (Dock), Steve Fiset (Jean-Pierre Fortier), Paul Berval (Priest), Patrick Conlon (Freddy); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Donald Brittain; Somerville House; 1971-Canada-English and French, with English subtitles)
“Notable for being Susan Sarandon’s first major role.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Notable for being Susan Sarandon’s first major role, where she plays a ditzy promiscuous chick who seems to be spaced-out without taking drugs. This enjoyable but confusing, undeveloped and silly dramedy stalls because it can’t make up its mind if it wants to be political, be a romantic romp or be a crime thriller. Larry Kent (“The Bitter Ash”/”Cold Pizza”/”Facade”)directs it as an outrageous farce with tragic overtones, that’s based on a story Kent wrote withEdward Stewart. At the time of its theater release the film was unfairly considered scandalous because of its nudity, but is tame by today’s standards. The slice of life drama is set against the backdrop of the 1970s Montreal separatist movement (a reaction to the tensions between the “French” and the “English” in culturally split Montreal, where the poorer French live on the east side and the more privileged English on the west side of town).
Montreal residing east side deadbeat French Canadian Jean-Pierre (Steve Fiset) is a dreamer with big ambitions, who is uneducated and blames his poor English as the main reason he can’t hold onto a job and has money problems. Jean-Pierre’s girlfriend Michelle (Céline Bernier), whom he lives with but without sex, is a strident argumentative separatist who nags him to get a job.
Jean-Pierre gets fired from a temp laborer job for an American advertising company shooting a deodorant commercial in Montreal. The bubbly, free-spirited American model Elizabeth (Susan Sarandon), who was the model on the outdoor set when Jean-Pierre got fired for interfering with her ad shoot, feels bad for him and pays him a home visit. Liz kisses him in the hallway and lays $20 on him, while Jean-Pierre keeps the front door closed so Michelle can’t see who he’s talking to. Jean-Pierre tracks Liz down at her place, but becomes frustrated that she has so many guys she’s screwing (including her upstairs neighbor, known as the Professor) and that he’s seemingly just around to foot the bill for her dates. The aimless lad becomes aware he needs money and a new wardrobe to see the fashionable Liz, someone he lusts after.
Jean-Pierre is close friends with Michelle’s criminal brother Dock (Jean-Pierre Cartier), who has plenty of chicks, money and drives around in a new Caddy convertible even though he has no known source of money. Dock makes Jean-Pierre his apprentice, as the befuddled Jean-Pierre begins a life of crime after he mentions he needs money to keep up with Liz. Jean-Pierre soon partners with the experienced Dock to stick-up stores and then graduates to creative stick-ups of banks.
Jean-Pierre gets entangled with both Michelle and Liz, as the jealous old girlfriend refuses to surrender him to Liz without fighting back by fucking him. When both women get pregnant, Jean-Pierre needs more money and robs a bank with his partner in the city (they usually rob banks in the sticks, where it’s easier) with dire consequences.
The running gag has Jean-Pierre tell a priest his sins during his confessional, such as when he: steals clothes, lusts after Liz, goes on a stick-up rampage, and has an orgy with the Professor (Gerard Parkes) and Liz. All the priest (Paul Berval) can say each time is “Be prudent!”
Steve Fiset’s character never goes anywhere, leaving him be just a pretty boy doofus with an itchy cock and a vacant stare and with not as much sympathy as could have been drawn from such a hapless comical character. That Fiset’s the main character and is not all that interesting, takes away much from this goofy pic that never becomes as funny as it probably should have been.
It’s a bilingual movie, providing either a French or English version.
REVIEWED ON 8/18/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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