Maîtresse (1976)


(director: Barbet Schroeder; screenwriter: Paul Voujargol; cinematographer: Nestor Almendros; editor: Denise de Casabianca; music: Carlos D’Alessio; cast: Gérard Depardieu(Oliver), Bulle Ogier (Ariane), Roland Bertin (Man in Cage), Holger Lowenadler (Gautier), Nathalie Keryan (Lucienne), Andre Rouyer (Mario); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Pierre Andrieux; Gaumont; 1976-France)

It was a shocker when first released and was banned in several counties.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Iran born French director Barbet Schroeder (“OurLadyoftheAssassins“/”More”) helms this black comedy, spun around a strange love story between a country thief and a city S&M prostitute dressed in leather. The screenplay is by Paul Voujargol. It dabbles in sadomasochism, with an uncritical eye for its anti-social misfit lovers.

Country boy idler Olivier (Gérard Depardieu) reunites with his thief friend Mario (Andre Rouyer) in Paris to team up making money by selling art books door to door. Mario looks for easy homes to rob. When Olivier tries selling books to Ariane (Bulle Ogier), she invites him into her upstairs luxury flat to fix a plumbing problem. He notices the downstairs flat is unoccupied. When the boys break-in they are greeted by a neon-lit sex dungeon of whips, masks and cages. Ariane encourages him to become part of her act, asking him to piss on a client licking her boots. This happy event pushes them into a relationship, as he learns she does this to support her son. The dolt gets serious about her and tries make a real relationship. She gives it a whirl, but finds a normal romance and her profession as a dominatrix don’t mix emotionally. It was a shocker when first released and was banned in several counties.

Today the shock has worn off and the film is revered. The fine actress Ogier, a cult favorite in France, who in her prime made films that rocked the Establishment, is perhaps best remembered for Maitresse.