Last Tango in Paris (1972) Poster

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There are those who see ...
hadleya24 June 2003
Okay, so I am not supposed to say anything about other user's comments, but I should mention that reading those comments is what lead me to write this...I don't know if this is an enjoyable movie experience, but it is nonetheless a triumph of cinema.

This film has very little to do with sex. It also has very little to do with the tango, and we might want to add it has little to do with Paris. Someone once told me this movie is about an American businessman. Out of curiosity, are all American's traveling in Europe businessmen? I think not. First of all, he was a boxer, a bongo player, he married a wealthy woman, but nowhere did I see this man as working for some corporation. This man had little money, and he didn't need a 'serious' career.

This film is about abuse; a parable about the overly masculine father who sexually abuses his own son; a child abused by his alcoholic parents; a widower who is abused by his animalistic but deadly honest wife. This movie is about a religious zealot for a mother-in-law in constant denial who shows more interest in her daughter's corpse than in her life. This movie is about an idealistic no-longer teenager who perhaps finds true love the only time in her life, but pays a terrible price. It is as though she has bitten from the forbidden fruit and found that love is an illusion.

To say Brando is superb misses the point. I simply know no other actor that could have pulled this off. His facial expressions are uncanny. It is a most fitting bookend to Street Car Named Desire. One simply cannot deny the final elevator scene. But unlike Streetcar, Brando portrays a vivid understanding of the sensitivity towards women and towards human existence that few men are capable of grasping, and few women could probably appreciate. Brando is himself. But Brando is himself because he understands his character, not because he plays himself.

This movie is an existential parody of the nature of society. It is a bitter reflection of human frailty and vanity. It is a tragedy of a man who has actually found a way to transcend his own suffering, who has somehow managed to cut through the illusions that all of us carry day-to-day. But with that knowledge, he finds himself utterly alone (as so many users here seem testament.)
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Brando's most personal film
DC197726 January 2000
Widely denounced as obscene upon its release and unjustifiably notorious for two of its scenes, Bernardo Bertolucci's 'Last Tango in Paris' is a savage story of lust and sexual debasement.

Marlon Brando delivers a ferocious performance as Paul, a middle-aged American expatriate tormented by his wife, Rosa's recent suicide, her infidelities and his failure to understand their relationship. In meeting a 20 year old girl, Jeanne, played by Maria Schneider, in an empty apartment, Paul hopes to form a relationship purely on his own terms and at his own pace, i.e. one he can understand fully. He insists on a new form of relationship, so basic that even their names were kept secret from each other, where she submitted to his every desire, where he could punish himself and relieve his despair and anger towards his wife by punishing Jeanne. Paul's only other interest is in Marcel (Massimo Girotti), Rosa's lover, for whom he has a curious respect and maybe a desire to obtain through him a better understanding of his own wife.

Despite his overpowering talent, Marlon Brando has often shown poor judgement in his choice of projects and has frequently trudged through films with no apparent effort or interest. In 'Last Tango in Paris' he gives everything and produces a performance of unrivalled force. Unfortunately the obvious improvisation in the film prevents the character of Paul from staying within check as he gradually becomes too much like Marlon Brando in the second half of the film. Nonetheless, when Brando is off-screen the film becomes hollow in comparison and is replaced by Jeanne's relationship with her fiance, an annoyingly pretentious TV director (Jean-Pierre Leaud).

This is a truly unique film and Bertolucci successfully highlights the romance in an affair that is fundamentally destructive. Brando's performance is remarkably powerful and intense, eclipsing every other player and dominating the entire film.
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Butter or Margarine
arichmondfwc31 January 2005
I'm thinking of "Last Tango in Paris" today because Neznaia, a kind IMDb user, asked me to write about it and I promised I would. Now a dilemma. Shall I write as I remember the experience or shall I watch it again? Well I'm already here so I seem to have taken a decision. Butter, that was the key word that pushed crowds to line up outside the theaters all over the world. Over the years the film has been vilified as utter euro trash or acclaimed as one of the best films ever made. I think that the truth falls somewhere in the middle. Bertolucci was coming out of at least two certified masterpieces of political, social and cinematic achievement "Before the Revolution" and "The Conformist". Tango is something else altogether, cinema veritè photographed by Vittorio Storaro, a revolutionary artistic genius, Gato Barbieri's music and Marlon Brando giving himself totally in one of the most brilliant pieces of self indulgence ever put on film. Within the intellectual coldness of its intentions breaths a stunning melodrama of operatic proportions. As a side note let me tell you that legend has it that in the original script, the Maria Schnaider's character, was a boy. At the time an idea of the sort was too outrageous to even consider. Everybody was very sophisticated but not that sophisticated. Apparently the movie went on with a girl in the part but not even a coma was changed from the original. Now, look at the film again with that in mind and you will notice that everything, as if by magic, makes perfect sense. We are ask to justify Brando's first wild approach to Schnaider was an irrational reaction to the pain, the anger and confusion by his wife death. Well yes, but he is a man, she is a woman, they may be braking a few rules but the basics remain intact, unless, of course she wasn't a she. If they are a man and a girl above the age of consent why the charade of secrecy? Why she's never really dressed like a girl, always jackets and open neck shirts and why they never make love like a man and a woman, usually, do? A lot of fingers and butter and,talk. When they get to the tango scene Brando dances with a real woman while Maria Schnaider monkeys around them. And finally look at the end and tell me if doesn't make much more sense if she was a he. She could have explained everything, embarrassing perhaps I don't know, but perfectly normal. If she was a he, the son of a military man, the thing had an entirely different color. Impossible to admit or to explain for a boy. Their affair is not between two gay man but between two heterosexuals. That's the key, that's at the center of it all. A breaking of rules in the most intimate way. To go against what you have come to accept as your own nature. I may be wrong of course, but I don't think so. I will see it again as soon as I can and if I feel that this memory of the film is merely a product of what I may have been smoking at the time I will let you know. But, somehow, I don't think I will have to.
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Bertolucci's film shocked many of those who had seen it...
Nazi_Fighter_David23 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It was, in short, a film about sex and the way that human beings use sex as a refuge, a release, and a weapon… The frank dialog, the nudity, and the simulated sex were not gratuitously employed but were integral to the theme of the film, and if the picture was not totally successful, it was certainly unforgettable…

Marlon Brando appears as a middle-aged American—but not the kind of American in Paris glorified by either George Gershwin or Ernest Hemingway... This is a man tormented by inner conflict... Brando's Paul between self-hatred over his wife's suicide and his feelings for Maria Schneider's Jeanne, she between her adoring documentary filmmaker fiancé (based wittily on Godard) and the taboo-breaking Paul...

The stark, empty flat that is the lovers' retreat from conventional society, and the cold, windy pavement where Paul screams his loathing for the world against the din of a passing train—connects us with the mood of the film...

Eager to escape the oppressive walls of his dark life, Paul embarks on a very complete sexual experience with a willing young woman in which there is no history spoken, no promises of future liaisons, no ties of any kind with the outside...

The two lovers know nothing of each other, not even their names... Their affair is purely physical, and the barren apartment becomes, as Bertolucci intended, a world of debauchery on which is explored a catalog of behavior that seems more childish than kinky...

Jeanne is a child-woman... She asks what she should call Paul, and they proceed to give themselves names brought only out of grunts, growls and screeches... Paul's cruelty is not justified and perhaps this is what attracts the modish girl... Some scenes emotionally are so provocative that you experience a wide range of feelings... Paul never asks Jeanne a direct question, but is constantly framing her for his next experiment, besides he assaults her, humiliates her and pushes her over the edge... There is one great moment for the heroine when she refuses Paul's power play and is equally unimpressed by his new declarations of love... She insists: 'It's over!'

The film is beautifully shot... The cinematography is unique, somber, shadowy and painterly... It presents despair, and the music reinforce the despairing mood... The movie is also intensely erotic, intensely realistic, immensely disturbing... The extreme frankness makes faintly uncomfortable viewing, not only because of its sexual material but because of its exploration of our inner nature with true perspective... Hopefully, younger viewers can turn their minds back to a time when sex was mysterious and beautiful; dangerous and daring; not just easy and transitory... Sex nearly always implies intimacy, but doesn't always provide it...

'Last Tango in Paris' is one of the great explorations of cinema's visual possibilities… Bertolucci camera's movements throughout the film characterize the rights steps of the tango which the two main characters execute at the climax of the film... We feel swept away by the beauty of the tango despite the tragic quality of the acts and events it escorts... The film does prove Bertolucci to be a true filmmaker capable of the audacity of Jean-Luc Godard and the distinctive style of Ingmar Bergman...
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Last Tango in Paris will return to you any thought you put into it...A masterpiece!
ACitizenCalledKane21 December 2004
Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris is like any other piece of art; You get out of it only as much as you put into it. Many people saw this movie in the 1970's (and still see it today) as being pornography and nothing else. Others viewed it and took note of Brando's performance (how could you not?!?), and noticed much, much more than a mere "skin flick." Personally, I find it to be a very important piece of art. Why? Because it broke barriers! In art, barriers only exist so that they may be broken, and I know that sounds like some "liberal artsy BS," but I think it's true. Artists are always trying to get down to the basics of human existence, and, unfortunately, it's not always pretty. This film, I believe, portrays a few elements of the human experience. Passion is the first. Then, facades, our need to defend ourselves from vulnerability. Also, the film tries to show the circular nature of our lives (things end only to begin again). The passion is expertly exposed through the savage brutality that Brando brings to the performance, as only he knew how to. Many argue that this was Brando's finest performance, and I can see why. I don't know if I could ever pick one performance of his and say it was his best, but this would easily, easily be a prime candidate. In Last Tango in Paris, Marlon Brando pulls out all of the stops, almost abusing his freedom in the role. Yet, this is where the film gets truly intriguing. Is this an act? It is, at least in name, a performance, but, how much of it is a performance, and how much is a stream of consciousness therapy session? I have never seen an actor pour so much of himself out before a camera. Watching it, I couldn't help but wonder, "What must be going on behind his eyes?" How can a man reveal so much of who he is, knowing that it is being filmed to be viewed by millions? Brando's "performance" forces the audience to question is Marlon Brando the performer or the performance. We'll never know. Perhaps he didn't know. Perhaps that is how he could pull off the monumental performance that he did. It is quite possibly the greatest performance I have ever seen. The fact that I have to wonder whether his character, Paul, is the truth or an image is only testament to Brando's power. As far as the circular nature of things, we see a role-reversal between Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando. At the beginning, it is Brando who is confused, lost, driven mad by the toll that a past love has taken on him. Yet, at the end of the film, it is Schneider's Jeanne who cares not about names, identity, and personal histories. Her life is committed to distance and emotional isolation. Her mind has confined itself to that little apartment where intimacy knew no bounds, except the publicity of a painful outside world. A million questions could be asked about these two central characters. What was going on in their minds? Who was more fragile, the tormented Paul, or the seemingly carefree Jeanne? Who controlled the relationship? Was there control? Was there a relationship? This film, like all other great films, leaves us asking questions, not only about the characters we've seen, but about the characters we portray on a daily basis.
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A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Bertolucci's requiem for unrequited Love
murtaza_mma1 May 2011
Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris simultaneously mocks and mourns the human yearning for love and companionship. The movie is a requiem for unrequited love, and a testament to the proclivity of humans to surrogate love with lust when trapped in a maelstrom of despondence, chagrin, and compunction. Bertolucci's purpose is not to glorify carnality as a virtue or to scorn it as a vice, but is to use it as an instrument to authenticate the veritable existence of a dark, ugly, and bestial side of humanity, which is so often suppressed and hypocritically denied in similar works on the subject. Bertolucci's penchant for art is limitless and he uses it to full effect in order to give the movie an aesthetic feel while simultaneously catering to the movie's explorative, earthy, and unconventionally bold motifs. Bertolucci uses his characters uncannily as a medium to foray into unexplored realms of human psyche while unflinchingly projecting them as objects of desire, disgust and depravity. Bertolucci pushes Brando and Schneider to a limit where they are not only forced to compromise their egos but also relinquish their pride, and I say that not as an offence but as an appreciation for his talent as a movie-maker. Renowned film critic Pauline Kael bestowed the film with the most ecstatic endorsement of her career, writing, "Tango has altered the face of an art form. This is a movie people will be arguing about for as long as there are movies." American director Robert Altman expressed unqualified praise: "I walked out of the screening and said to myself, 'How dare I make another film?' My personal and artistic life will never be the same." Eminent critic Roger Ebert has added the film to his "Great Movies" collection.

The movie presents an episode in the lives of two loners residing in Paris: Paul, a recently widowed, middle-aged American businessman, and Jeanne, a young, voluptuous, soon-to-be-married Parisian girl. The two accidentally meet up in an empty apartment available for rent, and a steamy affair ensues between the two on strictly anonymous basis. Paul is very discreet about his identity and whereabouts and even cajoles Jeanne to religiously follow the protocol. Paul sees Jeanne as a carnal surrogate for his deceased wife, while Jeanne finds in Paul a lover which her fiancé could never become. The two continue to meet and serve each other at regular intervals while also going about their regular business. Their sexually charged up affair, despite a disconnect at the emotional level, satiates them both beyond expectations, and resonates to the viewer an ineffable sense of frenzy and euphoria that holds him in a vice-like grip for the entire length of the movie. The dramatically botched, anti-climactic ending of the movie, which has been snubbed by critics, still manages to testify the axiomatic consistency of change in packing a punch stronger than the modern-day gimmicks.

Marlon Brando gives an inciteful, poignant, tour de force performance as the reclusive widower. Many people called Brando a chameleon, but I would call him a chameleon who hated his camouflage; a prodigy who detested his talent; a narcissist who abhorred himself for being a mortal. Brando as Paul is a cross between a sadist and a masochist. He uses every ounce of his talent to conjure up his menacing alter-ego. Driven by guilt and chagrin, Paul's sociopathic self is a nightmare for those around him. Roger Ebert wrote about Brando's performance: "It's a movie that exists so resolutely on the level of emotion, indeed, that possibly only Marlon Brando, of all living actors, could have played its lead. Who else can act so brutally and imply such vulnerability and need?" The scene in which Paul confronts the dead body of his wife, who has committed suicide, is probably the most powerful scene ever filmed in cinema. It not only depicts the complexities associated with Paul's character but also highlights the dichotomy he suffered owing to his dual emotions of rage and grief.

Maria Schneider is innocent, charming, voluptuous and pitiful in her portrayal of Jeanne, a Parisian girl whose life is devoid of true love. Schneider, being fully aware of her limitations as an actor, incredibly manages to give a performance that is singular and effective enough not to be adumbrated by Brando's sublime, over-the-top portrayal.

The cinematography of the movie is vivid, elaborative, and expressive and is well complemented by the movie's sensuously evocative background score.

PS. Last Tango in Paris is a profoundly disturbing case-study of human emotions and is a must for cineastes worldwide, but can only be savoured by eschewing bigotry, prejudice, and conservatism. 9/10
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Maria Schneider's face summarises this film perfectly
haasxaar15 December 2005
Schneider's looks can dutifully encapsulate my true emotions to this film. Occasionally she looks sexy and encaptivating, other times she can look too pale and a little bland. That's exactly how Bertolucci's helping of sexual cravings had me feeling after this film.

Habitually, Bertolucci's work eclipses genius - he is one of the few directors in world cinema that has an eye for definitive detail. He can capture such beautiful images, with such great vision, emotion, colour and panache that the viewer's sentiments are guided like few others in film-making. Like aforementioned, Schneider's face would be the perfect simile for this particular film. One scene the viewer is startled by the raw depth of the film, although slightly troubled by the explicit sex, but then all the viewer is treated to in the next scene is a terse and awkward moment which seems to have no correlation with the one that preceded it.

Naturally Brando's performance did help boost this film greatly, but that seems the film's very weakness - whenever he is off-camera it seems to struggle too much, it loses its power and prestige and becomes a little incoherent. This film undoubtedly has some powerful and poignant scenes that really can convey genuine sentiment and exude a tangible originality too; but it never really seems to shake off the loss of Brando's presence altogether.

For admirers of Bertolucci its a must, but for more neutral cineastes it would be advisable to have a more cautious approach when watching this film - to enjoy it, it would be paramount to expect this film to be an edifying, not an entertaining experience; its not a frivolous subject matter in any sense
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bigeyesforbeauty27 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I am happy I watched this movie before seeing all the reviews, so I didn't have this preconceived "sex" attitude. TO me "Last tango in Paris" is a special movie. I can watch it again and again and it will remain as powerful as it was when I had watched it for the first time. To me it is more that a movie. I saw it for the first time some 10 years ago as a teenager and I remember being mesmerized by the special mood that pervaded the whole movie. And those images. Grey Paris, city of loneliness, the lonely figure of Brando, the girl in a ridiculous hat. Then, the sex in the empty apartment devoid of all signs of normality, a strange relationship between two strangers, who have sex and still remain as separate and alienated as two people can be. She, young , curious, full of life, going to be married. Him, old, disillusioned, in the end of his life-journey, tormented by the pain of the loss of his wife who had brutally left him committing a suicide without explanation, without a note. And so they meet in this naked apartment, engage in the sex devoid of any tenderness, him, dominating her, setting the rules for the game where there is no names, no reality. And during those moments he escapes from the world around him, from the suicide of his wife, from the pain of the existence. She is strangely attracted to him, captivated by his power, lets herself be part of this game. She lets him do whatever he likes with her, but she knows she is free, she can leave this empty apartment at any moment.And she does. She is young and returns back to the normal life with her young fiancé. The last scenes of the dance and the chase are so powerful. The old man making a mickey of himself in front of the dancing crowd, playfully chasing the young girl who is visibly scared up into that empty apartment where everything had started. That last scene of him dying on the balcony like a stray dog is still haunting me. There is so much of the existentialist despair in the movie and the final release of that despair is so crude and powerful and beautiful in its bareness.

Altogether it is a piece of art so close to the existentialist writers and painters of the 20th century. It is about human condition, about the hell of existence, about no escape. and at the same time it is so full of emotions, of sadness and fear, of pain, and it is so beautiful.
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Brando is Great
eibon0919 October 2000
The acting of Marlon Brando is one of the major reasons to watch this feature film. Brando for the first time in his career exhibits a physical performance that matches the emotional intensity of his earlier films. Paul like the lead male characters in A Streetcar Named Desire(1951) and On the Waterfront(1954) is someone who behaves in an animalistic fashion. 1972 saw Marlon Brando in a banner year with his performances in The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris. It was the last great performance of Marlon Brando as he hasn't done anything good(except Apocalypse Now) as this.

The actor shows plenty of emotion and human depth in his role. Some of the scenes with Maria Schneider are some of the most difficult things done by the actor. The scene where Paul lets out his anger and frustration out on his dead wife is a prime example of why Marlon Brando is a great actor. This sequence reveals some about the character of paul. Marlon does a convincing job during the erotic scenes.

The direction by Bernardo Bertolucci is fantastic. It seems that being an Assistent Director for Pier Paolo Pasolini had paid off in the making of Ultimo Tango a Parigi/Last Tango in Paris(1972). There are Pasolinian moments that are evident in many parts of the movie. Bertolucci spends more time creating a three dimensional chracter in Paul then he did on Jeanne. The erotic sequences are done by the director with finesse and style.

There is a contrast between Paul(Last Tango In Paris), and Vitto(The Godfather). First, Vitto is calm and cool while Paul is emotionally unstable. Second, Paul is sexually active while Vitto is sexually inactive. Third, Vitto concerns himself with the family structure and Paul is an individual. Finally, Paul is middle aged and somewhat in shape and Vitto is old and nearing death.

On the day of its release, Last Tango in Paris Stirred up an enormous uproar. This had nothing to do with the sex scenes itself but the content that propelled these scenes. It was banned in the director's native soil. One scene that caused a stir is the scene where Jeanne puts her hand in Paul's backside. Another scene that upset people is the infamous "Butteromy" Sequence.

Maria Schneider gives a couragous and emotionally difficult performance as Jeanne. This film had a negative effect on the actress as she later had a breakdown and spent some time in an asylum. In one interview, Maria Schneider discussed her displeasure with the director. She does a wonderful job in the scene where she describes her relationship with a cousin as a young girl. She does things that many well known actresses would be afraid to do.

The emotional level of the sex scenes are what caused such a scandal. The sex is not out of love but out of despair and the yearning for human contact. The "Butteromy" scene takes that notion to the extreme. What makes the sex scandalous is the fact that Paul and Jeanne treat it in a matter of fact way. It seems that Paul is Jeanne's sex toy as that's the way she views him.

Romance director, Catherine Breillit has an appearence in Last Tango in Paris(1972). The supporting cast are good in their perspective roles. Jean-Pierre Leaud is terrific in his portrayal of Jeanne's clueless beau. He would appear in another erotic themed feature called The Mother & the Whore(1973). Jean Pierre Leaud's character is the exact opposite of Paul.

Ultimo Tango a Parigi opens with images of a Francis Bacon painting. The characters are nothing but live paint figures of a Francis Bacon masterwork. The director was influenced by the works of the painter when he decided to do the film. The scene where Brando is crouched in a corner is a live reactment of one painting during the opening credits. Bacon's paintings like the feature look deep within the pits of the human soul.

Agnes Varda wrote some additional dialogue for this motion picture. Last Tango in Paris comes between two classics in The Conformist(1970), and 1900(1976). It is avilable in both a R and NC-17 version. The ending is ironic and tragic because Paul is on the verge of turning over a new leaf. The cinematography by Vittorio Storaro makes the camera another member of the cast.
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Love, Life, Loss, and Loneliness in the City of Light
Goodbye_Ruby_Tuesday15 January 2008
Pauline Kael once famously described Last Tango as the most emotionally gratifying film she had ever seen in her 20 years as a film critic. I have not been a film critic for 20 years (I'm not even 19, the age Maria Schneider was when she played Jeanne). I have not seen more films than there are stars in the sky. But I can agree that this is a film that is groundbreaking in the ways most people don't expect: it so nakedly lays open the life of a broken man in all his flaws and his pain and self-loathing. The genius is that we'll never know if it was Marlon Brando exposing his own vulnerability or the greatest trick Houdini never pulled.

The plot is so simple it borders on preposterous: haunted American widower Paul meets young Parisian Jeanne by chance and together they rent an apartment where they engage in anonymous sex. Those who only know the film by this brief synopsis or its notorious reputation might believe the controversy and fail to look past it. Last Tango is not about sex and it's certainly not about butter. The sex scenes were not merely slapped on to make more money at the box office, for they show simultaneously Paul's release, his grief, his hunger, his rage, his last desperate attempt to reach out to another person. Marlon Brando inhabits this so greatly and personally it's impossible to imagine anyone else in this role with the same feeling of release. From the first frame you see Brando it's so unbearably evident that his face, scarred with age, tells a thousand stories of loneliness. Ironically, it's only through sex with a perfect stranger that he's able to find himself again.

That's essentially what this story is about: loneliness, identity (or loss of it), and, in a strange way, love. More than any director I was reminded of Nicholas Ray, whose own violently poignant film In a Lonely Place bears some resemblance: both films center on a middle-aged man whose troubled existence is briefly calmed when he falls in love and ultimately ends in doom. Like Ray, Bertolucci frames his film meticulously, with shots though mirrors, windows and doorways to convey a sense of loss and emptiness in the large and cheerless apartment, something of a haven from the outside world and the people who inhabit it. Only inside is where Paul and Jeanne can begin to comprehend the lonely places of their hearts.

So much praise has been lavished on Brando it seems unfair to exclude Maria Schneider, whose life was haunted after doing this movie. She's a child aware of her body and her affect on men, but unable to understand why she is in this situation and how she got herself there, and Schneider plays this with such a devastating honesty. But in the end, the film, the audience, and Bertolucci are all more interested in Paul than Jeanne, and for good reasons. Brando gives such ferocity with the simplest of gestures. Usually one can pick the most emotional scene of the film and mark it as the high point, proof of an actor's genius. I suppose that that one scene is when Paul visits the corpse of his deceased wife. First he rages at her, then he breaks down. Though a great scene, every single moment that Brando is on film is a great scene. At once he's insane (I mean that in the best way possible), he's humorous, he's angry, he's sad, he's broken. Paul goes through nearly every single emotion possible, and Brando somehow makes it seem like he was experiencing it himself. Brando told Bertolucci after filming had ended that he put so much of himself into the role that he couldn't imagine doing something as harrowing ever again.

He never did.
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Not last enough
onepotato216 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Bertolucci's controversial film is not aging well, playing like a catalog of 70s excess. Self-indulgent Method acting, check! Inscrutable wandering as plot? check. Impromptu camera-work with poor lighting? yes. Brando plays his usual sociopath in this unerotic, character study. All you have to do as a viewer to test whether a movie that involves transgressive sex is titillating or art is to swap out the hot girl and imagine it with a dowdy, homely chick. if you don't want to watch that movie, you like this because it turns you on. Ditto for Mulholland Drive and others. Then you can be artistically honest yourself. And I'd appreciate that.

I'm not a big fan of Bertolucci but I approach every movie with an open mind. I like that this is pushing very hard on the previously inviolable limits of conventional film-making but I just don't like it as a whole (or in parts). Watching it is as spirtually draining as spending two hours in a nursing home. It felt like my brain was turning to mush. I don't mind that the movie was quite serious, but it also occupies a very off-putting, morose, self-important space. Context is the only way I can appreciate it. But who knows, I used to dislike Blowup, and now it ranks pretty highly.
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Lost in Translation.
MovieAddict201617 December 2005
Bernardo Bertoluci's "Last Tango in Paris" is a beautiful art-house movie that features one of Marlon Brando's finest performances. He plays Paul, an enigmatic American drawn to France after the recent suicide of his wife. While there, he encounters Jeanne, whom he soon begins to have an affair with. However, they do not reveal anything about themselves and the relationship is based solely on sex.

Jeanne is engaged to Tom, a film director making a documentary of sorts about her. She questions her own love for Tom as she finds herself more and more drawn to Paul.

"Last Tango in Paris" or "Ultimo tango a Parigi" was released in 1972 to much hoopla. Critics loved it but the American censors despised it and it somehow gained a reputation of being a "smut film." It's actually a deep and provocative statement about two people from different backgrounds who fall in love despite trying not to. Their anonymity with each other only makes it all the more difficult.

Brando delivers a stunning performance and Maria Schneider is quite convincing in what must have been a very demanding role.

This isn't a flawless film but it is very good and offers more than just the average "t&a" the genre has come to be known for.

"Last Tango in Paris" has been copied a few times over the years - most noticeably with films such as "9 1/2 Weeks" and "Intimacy." However, this is still one of the best "erotic" dramas out there.
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A paradox
ersbel30 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the most intriguing movies I have ever seen. It is a bad movie. The story is weak and it employs cheap thrills through ambiguity. Sure, if you want to dive into Bertolucci's mind this might turn out an interesting hour and a half. Otherwise Tango is more of a waste of good celluloid. For a B movie it would have been great nevertheless.

Finally, after reading up a few things about it the film turns out so popular because it was labeled as artsy porn. This tango is far from that. It even contains those cute and unnatural cuts so you don't get to see too much skin, nipples, whatever. I am sure there is more than enough for the deranged American fundamentalist to call it smut, but for the rest of the world it's just a tame movie about a sex-based relationship. Having stated that here comes the paradox: this is probably Brando's best character. Even better than col. Kurtz or don Vito Corleone. He is living each and every scene. Sure, most of the dialog is made by him and even some of the stories told by Paul. And although Maria Schneider doesn't get to display anything more than her body Leaud is very good even with the lousy Bertolucci's weak directing.

What's so special about the Tango? I've seen quite a few bad movies with great actors doing their best. The key is the light. The light makes the whole movie stand. It's what tricked people into assuming that is a good movie. And it's all thanks to Vittorio Storaro. The man who has given the world the amazing light of Apocalypse now does the whole show. Exceptional! Yet, a bad movie.

Contact me with Questions, Comments or Suggestions ryitfork @
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Shocking. Shockingly minimalist, vulgar, and worst of all - tedious!
Howlin Wolf27 March 2004
I've not seen much of Brando, but a lot of the time I sense that he was merely coasting by on reputation alone. Schneider reminds me of Beatrice Dalle in "Betty Blue" (A different - and better - type of film than this one) but less sexy and a hundredth as interesting to watch. The entire film is drab to look at, perhaps intentionally because of the transience of the characters, but sadly, 'dull' is still 'dull' however you try to excuse it. I think we're SUPPOSED to feel an element of revulsion at the vulgarity, but it makes the film even less appealing, which obscures any serious point that is perhaps trying to be made. There is no sympathy for the rootless existence of the characters, more a case of: "Behave yourself Marlon, you dirty old perv!" (and he was comparatively YOUNG when he made this!)

It was the "memorable quotes" section on this here site that inspired me to write a review. It made me realise just how pretentious the whole 'affair' (take the term how you wish) actually is. Convergence of older man and younger woman? Potentially provocative if dealt with correctly. Here, instead Bertolucci seems incapable of recognising profundity for something that is simply uncouth.

As far as I'm concerned, the film's sexual element is most appropriate merely because the piece itself seems to be the cinematic equivalent of masturbation; perhaps gratifying for those involved, for everybody else, uncomfortable at best!
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irena_89-124 November 2007
The movie is above brilliant. It leaves you impressed for days, and when the impression starts to fade, you watch it again. And again... Why do I find this movie so special? Because it is. It is a refreshment: it can move you, make you wonder, make you dream - of Paris, of destroying passion, of love which is above the ordinary, of places and people you have yet to meet or yet never to meet... It is a movie of passionate imagination coming true. I have to say that I can't believe people see the sex-scenes in this movie just like any other sex scenes. They're not scenes to make people watch the movie and just wait for the part in which Brando and Schneider have sex. It is amazing sex. It is passion. Strange and exotic fruit. Makes you speechless and addicted. But yet, it is bittersweet... Watch the movie, it is a genuine a work of art, a masterpiece of European cinematography, and I also have to point out- the music from the movie is brilliant, jazz, tango... sabor suave y delicioso :)
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bad film
peaceoutdreams8 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This film contains a scene where the main actress Maria Schneider is raped by Marlon Brando. It has been recently told that this scene WAS NOT in the script. The actress was not informed about the scene. The director Bertolucci admitted that Brando and him talked about it previously and decided to use a stick of butter to rape Maria Schneider with. Bertolucci claims that did it for the purpose of art. If you do not believe me, all it takes is an internet search. The fact that the director did this and got away with it is absolutely disgusting. A woman was taken advantage of for artistic purposes??? Why would you want to watch a movie where a woman is literally raped?
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Worst movie ever?
myollnir27 September 2007
I thought it was impossible to shot a worse movie than Bertolucci's "I dance alone". Until today, when eventually I tried to see LTiP (I was too young at the time it came to theaters in Italy). 90% boring, 5% unwittingly comic, 20% just irritating. The total exceeds 100% because the film seems even longer than it is (I had to quit before the first half an hour, then tried with my remote to FFWD to any decent frame: no way). The only good about it, Maria Schneider was quite pretty (yet far better fully dressed than naked, IMO)and Brando not yet worn-out. But the talk. The horror, oh, the horror! To quote Brando's Kurz last line in Apocalypse now... The acting. The script. And the famous sex scenes: just ridiculous. Even photography and soundtrack were awful, despite they were signed by Storaro and Morricone. What a waste of time. OK, if you're still a commie today - like Bertolucci - you can't be very smart. But there must be a limit
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A staggering achievement
estabansmythe3 February 2006
"Last Tango in Paris" is a staggering achievement, and one of the most influential films on yours truly.

I was a young cinema student, 18 years old and fresh out of high school. I first saw the film in a drive-in and it's effect was life changing.

Vittorio Storaro's stark use of light and images; mixed with the bare-but- meaningful dialogue (much of Brando's lines were brilliantly improvised and often spellbindlingly meandering; and Gato Barbieri's hauntingly unforgettable sax-driven score; Brando's legendary performance matched beautifully with Maria Schneider's combined under Bernardo Bertolucci's magical directing spell to create a mammoth 129 minutes (in America) of cinema for the ages.

It must be noted separately that Brando's improvised soliloquy next to his wife's body as it lies in its coffin after her unexpected suicide is one of the greatest single moments in the history of film acting.

"Last Tango In Paris" is essential viewing.
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Last Mumble in Paris
thederf15 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is over 2 hours of incoherence, sophomoric dialog, awful acting, and male self-congratulatory acts of rape and sodomy as expressions of love and meaning. Over-rated Brando is as fatuous here as he is fat later on. He has to constantly look off camera to spout the most inane bloated pig crap in cinema. Rosa was completely justified in suicide from a bore (boar!) like Brando. Her mother could not have prayed enough to save her daughter. Marie Schneider of little talent and no underwear should have listened to the black landlady . . . "you're too young. . ." The audience is too old for this drivel. If only she had shot him 2 hours earlier we could have caught the winner of the last tango.
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Brilliant Performances But Over-Rated As A Whole
gftbiloxi24 April 2005
Brando is a middle-aged American whose wife has committed suicide; Schneider is a young European beauty seeking a sense of personal identity. The two meet by chance in an empty apartment--and immediately embark upon an anonymous affair in which Brando seeks to both purge and renew himself through Schneider.

Both stars offer intense performances, and director Bertolucci invests the film with numerous poetic and symbolic flourishes. The cinematography is elegant; the score is quite interesting. But when everything is said and done, LAST TANGO IN Paris is extremely thin stuff that relies on sexual shock to generate tension--and what was once shocking is now passe. At the time TANGO was made, it was unthinkable that a major Hollywood star would appear in such a film... Yet by today's standards, the nudity involved is quite mild, the sex scenes are surprisingly discreet, and the script is oddly naive. It all seems very tame.

Moreover, the film's subplots slow the action to a crawl and the film as a whole has a self-conscious, faintly pretentious tone. Brando and Schneider, both separately and together, offer quite a few impressive moments, but you have to wade through a lot to get to them. Is it worth it? Difficult to say. Although I don't regret having watched the film, I flatly state that I would not bother to watch it again. My recommendation: see it before you buy it, because one viewing may be quite enough.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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Knocking the Briefs Off "Brief Encounter"
zardoz-1313 March 2005
"Last Tango In Paris" stirred up a firestorm of controversy when United Artists released it back in 1972. Over thirty eventful years have passed since it weathered a battle over its alleged obscenity, but Bernardo Bertolucci's acclaimed erotic classic hasn't aged well at all. In fact, "Last Tango" should have been renamed "Last Tedium In Pretentiousness." Okay, ace lenser Vittorio Storaro deserves top marks for his moody, evocative photography, but the rest of this muddled nonsense is just that: NONSENSE! Perhaps we can forgive Bernardo for this dreary, depressing, drivel. Overrated in every department aside from its cinematography, "Last Tango" doesn't even seem erotic now, even if it ever were. I saw this crap when it came out and it seemed like an exercise in random hopelessness. Brando is a great actor, but not here as a person for whom we have not the least sympathy much less understanding. By the time that we meet him we learn that his wife committed suicide in the tub and splashed blood everywhere. So all we know is that he is grief-stricken beyond the point of no return. The idea of making a movie about two lonely people who connect for sex at a neutral locale and deny themselves the faintest pleasure in terms of knowing who they are screwing looks like something Bernardo came up with while sitting in a 42nd Street grindhouse. I wouldn't even describe this epic as obscene. Sure, sexy Maria Schneider flaunts full frontage nudity, but the sex scenes are so tame that you'll want to yawn and roll over. They rank right down there with the sex scenes between Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in the remake of "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Anybody who calls "Last Tango" obscene hasn't been to a movie in thirty years. Even when I originally watched it in obscure movie theater in Starkville, Mississippi near MSU, I detested the obligatory scenes involving her boyfriend Tom (Jean-Pierre Leaud) as the filmmaker who follows Schneider as the focus for a documentary that he is producing. They say that the original cut of "Last Tango" ran 4 hours and they chopped half of that out, so why didn't they axe this useless subplot? The Schneider character is just as one-dimensional as the Brando character, except that we know that she can shoot her father's pistol with accuracy. Indeed, Bernardo does everything that he can to make Paris look like a hovel. Shrinks will probably love this movie as well as pretentious art critics who love to fawn over films that make no sense and in making no sense justify senselessness. Oh, yes, the Gato Barbieri sax solos ooze atmosphere in what boils down to ramped up sexual variation on "Brief Encounter." Happily, Bernardo made better movies before "Last Tango," and he made better movies after "Last Tango."
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Last Tango In Paris Reveals The Shallow Nature Of All Our Relationships
talas124 October 2003
She wants him, he doesn't want her but is willing to use her for sex and comfort until he admits he likes it then she doesn't want him after chasing him to keep him available to use for cheap sex and intimacy.

Great film. These are the adult relationships we learned. We see them acted out in various versions around us, over and over again. The film is great in showing the dynamics of the human psyche being pretty screwed up because of cultural influences. Brando becomes the man who uses Schneider's character and then shows his hidden vulnerability; Schneider is pretty good at playing the spoilt rich brat who's touched more than she wants to be, but hard at the core anyway. That's everyone we know.

Shows how common misery is in all 'western societies'; nice cinematography all the dark sets and semi-gloomy atmospheres reflect very nicely the human themes of the film.

A classic.
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Bernardo Bertolucci is truly a cinematic genius
cwoliver-120 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers. Naw, it was spoiled long before I wrote this. Bernardo Bertolucci is truly a cinematic genius. To have written and directed this masterpiece is extraordinary - extraordinary crap. The genius is that he conned the artistic elite with it.

The dialog was anything but realistic; the plot – what plot; the acting was on par with an elementary school production; the cinematography would have been better using a hand-held camcorder, for sure the sound quality would have been better; the musical score was actually a Bertolucci mix-tape and was unrelated to the mood or setting of the scenes.

Brando. What can I say about Brando? Trite, emotionally flat, two dimensional, and inconsistent all come to mind. I have yet to see Brando deliver anything near an award-winning performance he is alleged to have within him. Brando has an incredible range of emotion; from angry to not so angry. Moody is not applicable as it would imply that he has more than one and is capable of changing it.

Brandon, having done his own sex scenes, demonstrated that he was still a virgin. I've seen more realistic sex scenes in legitimate porn (I'm embarrassed that these scenes would force me to use the words legitimate and porn together). This was the first time I'd seen a woman climax in less than 30 seconds, and the rolling around afterward was priceless LMAO. Clearly the writer was also a virgin.

Maria, while her performance was lackluster, did at least have a pair of things going for her – and what a pair. The movie would have been greatly improved by having Maria in various stages of undress for the entire 130 minutes. This would have eliminated the need for dialog AND Brando, not to mention reducing expenses on an already-low budget.

And last but not least is the basic premise (spontaneous sex between strangers) was unrealistic – but it is a common fantasy of men. In that regard the movie does deliver – just not very effectively. Maybe the purpose of the film was to get women to take pity on Brando and Bertolucci and have sex with them? Just a thought. "2" out of 10 Thank you Maria!
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My favorite film.
zetes18 July 1999
This is my single favorite film. There has never been a film that has given me more to think about that this one.

But first let me clear one thing up: this was NEVER MEANT TO BE A LOVE STORY BETWEEN TWO GAY MEN EVER. I really despise when people say that. Why should people believe what someone said in the liner notes for the soundtrack? According to the British Film Institute Classics series, Bertolucci thought of the idea after he had a strong desire to make love to an anonymous woman in a room he had never been in before. That rumor arose when Ingmar Bergman said that the film only would work if Paul and Jean were both men. But why? Paul walks the line between two separate attitdes towards Jean: at some points he wants to torture her. he wants to punish her and all women. On the more positive side, he wants to teach her about life. Both of these attitudes stem from his wife's betrayals and lies. He wants to punish and get revenge for what Rose did to him, but he also wants to prevent Jean from becoming like her. Both of these attitudes are extremely egotistical (Jean does call him an egoist). How would those attitudes even apply if Paul were sleeping with a man? It would be a completely different film. It may have been good also, but it would not work with the plot and themes of the film.

Now that that's over with, I would like to praise brando, my god, for a while. This is his ultimate performance. He improvised a lot of his scenes. The scene where he talks to Rose's dead body is possibly the best scene in all of film. He actually felt the emotions he portrayed. He seemed to feel them more intensely than a person could possibly feel.

I would also like to praise Maria Schneider and Jean-Pierre Leaud. Many people have complained that Maria Schneider is just standing there while Brando acts circles around her. This isn't true. They also complain that her character has no character. She's just meant to be naked and beautiful. The only reason people say this is that Jean hides her emotions a lot. Where Paul is looking at their relationship from a grave viewpoint, Jean sees it,initially, at least, as an adventure. She entirely accepts Paul's advances when they first meet. She comes back for more. She's sexually independent (she proves this by masturbating when he pays no attention to her), where Paul is wrapped up in the confusion he feels after his wife's suicide. I love the little games she plays with Tom, her fiancee. "La marriage pop" is one of my favorite scenes. Leaud's character is really funny. It's a joke targeting the cineasts who gave him his career, Truffaut and Godard. His love for film is humorous, and gives us the excellent contrast between great fimmakers like Bertolucci and adequate ones like Godard.

Art isn't about fun. It is more wonderful when it is emotionally painful, as the Bacon paintings introducing the film exhibit spectacularly. I absolutely love dancing with Paul and Jean. Sometimes, when I watch it, I'll rewind the Last Tango scene and watch it four or five times. The dialogue is among the best ever written. And I am probably the only person who thinks the ending is perfect. I will not reveal it, but it simply illustrates that Jean was not willing to learn adulthood. Childhood was much more fitting. Kind of reminds me of most every other movie.
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