Filmsite Movie Review
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Rosa's Mother Informed by Paul About Rosa's Deteriorating Flophouse:

Paul again met with Rosa's mother in the flophouse-hotel, and admitted that everything had deteriorated under his poor management after he had arrived five years earlier and had married Rosa. The hotel had become a semi-bordello for prostitutes and their clients, and a refuge for junkies and drug-dealers:

Paul: "I came to this hotel for one night and stayed for five years."
Mother: "When we had the hotel, people came here to sleep."
Paul: "Now they do anything. They hide out, take drugs, play music."

To aggravate the tenants, to deliberately frighten and upset Rosa's mother, and to extinguish the noisy music outside, Paul flipped the master electrical switch and everything turned dark: "It takes so little to make them afraid. You wanna know what they're afraid of? They're afraid of the dark." He referred to various tenants (with nicknames) who emerged from their rooms:

  • Mr. Juicehead Junkie
  • Mr. Saxophone
  • Miss Blow Job of 1933

After switching the lights back on to restore calm, Paul introduced Rosa's mother to a tenant named Marcel (Massimo Girotti) who arrived in the front lobby of the flophouse-hotel: "He was Rosa's lover." Paul was revealing and expressing his angry, pay-back truth-telling after Rosa's sudden suicide. Marcel had been having a secret love affair with his wife Rosa.

The First Lengthy Bathroom Sequence in the Apartment:

As Paul arrived back at the apartment, he caught the stark-naked Jeanne searching in his coat pocket - to find out any additional things she could about him. In the apartment's tiled bathroom while he was shaving in front of the mirror with a straight-edged razor (and she was applying eyelash makeup), Jeanne point-blank asked Paul to explain their mostly sexual, anonymous and emotionless relationship. While also making fun of her heavy French accent, he responded with superficial answers:

Jeanne: "What am I doing in this apartment with you? Love?"
Paul: "Well, let's say we're just taking a flying f--k at a rolling doughnut."
Jeanne: "So you think I'm a 'wore'?..."
Paul: "No, you're just a dear old-fashioned girl trying to get along. Why were you going through my pockets?"
Jeanne: "To find out who you are..."
Paul: "Yes. Well, if you look real close, you'll see me hiding behind my zipper."

She asked further direct questions about his age and college education, but he answered with more falsified or brief light-hearted answers. She complained as she began to realize that he was using her and not taking her seriously or meaningfully - during their promiscuous affair - to make up for his own meaningless life, and underlying repressed anger and vengeance after his wife's suicide:

"I'm not free. You want to know why you don't want to know anything about me? Because you hate women....What have they ever done to you?"

He literally told her to "Shut up. I know it's tough, but you're gonna have to bear it," and then changed the subject. However, he hoisted her up over his shoulder, twirled her around, and then kissed her with glowing words: "I think I'm happy with you." She beamed at him: "Encore! Do it again! Again!" But then, he abruptly left the apartment by himself without saying goodbye to her.

Jeanne's Growing Distance From Her Fiancee Thomas:

Jeanne yelled at Thomas (they were on opposite sides of a noisy Metro train station), as he continued to imagine that he was filming her - with his fingers forming a rectangle in front of him. She confronted him with her frustrations over his filming obsession - it was an important statement in contrast to her treatment by Paul:

"Find another girl for your film....You take advantage of me. You make me do things I've never done. You're stealing my time. You make me do whatever you want. The film is over. I'm tired of having my mind raped!"

After a train barreled through the station, Thomas met up with her on the same side of the tracks and assaulted her. As he punched her, she fought back and struck at him. They ended up embracing and hugging.

Paul's Interaction with Marcel - His Wife Rosa's Lover:

Paul entered Marcel's flophouse-hotel room - where Marcel mentioned that Rosa had required them to have identical bathrobes ("Same color, same design"). Paul knew all about his wife's affair: "You can't tell me anything I don't already know." Marcel also stated: "We have lots of things in common." Paul realized that he had a unique marital arrangement with Rosa: ("I don't think there are many such marriages"). Rosa had apparently pressured Marcel into making his room similar to the one she shared with Paul, right down to a bottle of bourbon and the color of the walls. Over a drink, they both tried to understand their situation with Rosa over the past year when she was Marcel's mistress. Both tried to figure out why Rosa had chosen to be Marcel's mistress, or the reason for her suicide, as Marcel did pull-ups to demonstrate that he was in better shape than Paul:

Marcel: "Why did she betray you with me?"
Paul: "You don't think Rose killed herself? It's difficult for me, too, to believe it....Really, Marcello, I wonder what she ever saw in you. "

The Infamous Butter-Rape Sequence:

Jeanne returned to the apartment after her fight with Thomas, calling out: "Hi, monster." Without answering directly, Paul's first words to her were:

"There's some butter in the kitchen....Go get the butter...Go get the butter."

She told him her reaction to his cold disregard for her feelings: "It makes me crazy that you're so damn sure that I'd come back here. What do you think? That an American on the floor in an empty house eating cheese and drinking water is interesting?" When she found a small trap-door in the floor, presumably a hiding place for family secrets, he began talking about her genitals as another place possibly hiding jewels or maybe gold ("Can I open that?").

In the disturbing and explicit (yet simulated) anal rape-sodomy scene on the floor, Paul turned her over and pushed her face-down onto the floor, and then pulled her pants down, as he retorted: "I'll tell you about family secrets." He used butter smeared on a few fingers from a block as a lubricant during intercourse. From behind, he greased her up before penetrating into her, as she shouted out "No!" three times. His emphasis was on pure sex, basically anal - a reversal of conventional romantic love. As he prepared her and then had sex with her, he expressed sacreligious sentiments by renouncing the institution of the family and the Catholic Church for its damaging teachings - and forced her to repeat his words:

I'm gonna tell you about the family. A holy institution meant to breed virtue in savages....A holy of good citizens...The children are tortured until they tell their first lie. Where the world is broken by repression....Where freedom is assassinated by egotism. Family....You f--king family.

Afterwards, they both listened to a record of "Pop Sounds" on a portable phonograph player, with an electrical short in the plug.

More Interaction Between Jeanne and Her Fiancee Thomas Regarding Their Upcoming Marriage:

As they were encircled and filmed by Thomas' film crew, although Thomas claimed he had sent everyone away, he offered Jeanne something very important - a secret surprise: "A secret between a man and a in a week I'm marrying you." He placed a restrictive life preserver over her head, as the sound of water in a rushing waterfall drowned out their conversation. When she removed and tossed the round life preserver (L'Atalante) into the water and it sank, he asked: "Yes or no?", but she didn't answer.

Jeanne was with her mother (Gitt Magrini) in her father's Parisian apartment. She tried on her father's military uniform and cap, and practiced aiming with her father's gun: "How heavy it was when Papa taught me to shoot." (A foreshadowing) All of her father's accumulated belongings in the apartment were being sent to the family's country home, where Thomas was preparing a family museum. There would soon be more space in the apartment. As she left and descended in the elevator, she told her mother: "I'm getting married in a Tom!"

Tom was filming as Jeanne's wedding rehearsal was being conducted, and she was being fitted with her wedding dress. Jeanne preferred a more upbeat, pop, and modernistic wedding - often advertised on posters. Jeanne also naively offered practical and easy solutions for fixing a bad marriage:

Jeanne: "The ideal, successful marriage isn't anymore the old style, in church with a depressed and a complaining wife. Today, the advertising marriage is the posters....Why not take the poster marriage seriously?"
Tom: "....There's the formula. For pop youth, pop marriage. And if it doesn't work?"
Jeanne: "Fix it like a car. The couple are two workmen in overalls repairing a motor. "
Tom: "And in case of adultery, what happens?"
Jeanne: "Instead of two workmen, there are three or four."
Tom: "And love? Is love pop too?"
Jeanne: "No. Love is not pop."
Tom: "If it is not pop, what is it?"
Jeanne: "The workmen go to a secret place. They take off their overalls, becoming men and women again and make love."

Tom became carried away with filmic references to other Hollywood glamour stars after he observed Jeanne in her bride's wedding dress. He ranted and raved as he shouted outside to the heavens:

"You're better than Rita Hayworth, than Joan Crawford, Kim Novak, Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner when she loved Mickey Rooney!"

As it began to rain, he yelled at his film crew for packing up. When he returned inside, an overly-frustrated Jeanne had already stormed off.

Jeanne's Return to Paul - The Lengthy Bathing Sequence and Discussion in the Apartment:

Jeanne returned to Paul in the apartment still wearing her soaking wet wedding dress. She profusely apologized to Paul for running off: "Pardon me! Forgive me! I wanted to leave you. I could not. I wanted to leave you, and I couldn't. I can't. I can't leave you. Understand? Do you still want me?" In the ascending elevator with Paul, Jeanne naughtily raised her wedding dress, revealing that she was without underwear, and exhibiting a a full-frontal closeup shot of her pubic hair. As often the case after marriage, Paul carried her in his arms over the threshold of the apartment door. However, she became frightened with the sight of a dead rat on their mattress, while Paul teased her about eating it: "I like to start with the head. That's the best part. Are you sure you won't have any?...What's the matter? You don't dig rat?" She was nauseated: "This is the end!...I can't make love in this bed anymore." With continued taunting and joking, Jeanne threatened to leave Paul forever:

"I want to get out of here. I want to go away. I can't take it anymore here. I'm going away. I'm never coming back. Never."

She counter-taunted Paul with news of her lover-fiancee Thomas: "I forgot to tell you something. I fell in love with somebody....And I'm going to make love with him."

Unphased by her news, Paul suggested a hot bath to prevent pneumonia. He picked her up again, kicking and screaming, and took her into the bathroom. He helped her change out of her dress and then bathed her. In the bathtub, as she again kept repeating that she was in love, he dunked her and softly bonked her on the head. She criticized his age:

Jeanne: "You know, you're old. And you're getting fat."
Paul: "Fat, is it? How unkind."
Jeanne: "Half of your hair is out. And the other half is almost white."
Paul: "You know, in 10 years, you're gonna be playing soccer with your tits. What do you think of that? You know what I'm gonna be doing?"
Jeanne: "You'll be in a wheelchair."
Paul: "Well, maybe. But, you know, I'll be smirking and giggling all the way to eternity."
Jeanne (sarcastically): "How poetic!"

To make Paul jealous as he washed her feet, Jeanne bragged about Thomas' love-making: "You know, he and I, we make love."

Paul retorted with masculine one-up-man-ship:

"Oh, really? Ha, ha. That's wonderful. Is he a good f--ker?...You know, you're a jerk. Cause the best f--king that you're gonna get is right here in this apartment....Listen, you dumb dodo, all the mysteries that you're ever gonna know in life are right here."

She then explained why she was in love with the other male, even though she admitted that he frightened her: "Because he knows how to make me fall in love with him." Paul shattered her ivory-tower idealized image of true love. Paul suggested that love could only be found with a man by going "into the ass of death":

"You want this man that you love to protect you and take care of you....You want this golden, shining, powerful warrior to build a fortress that you can hide in, so you don't ever have to be afraid or you don't have to feel lonely, and you never have to feel empty. That's what you want, isn't it?...Well, you'll never find him.... It won't be long until he'll want you to build a fortress for him out of your tits and out of your c--t and out of your hair and your smile and the way you smell. Someplace where he can feel comfortable enough and secure enough so that he can worship in front of the altar of his own prick....You're alone. You're all alone and you won't be able to be free of that feeling of being alone until you look death right in the face. I mean, that sounds like bulls--t, some romantic crap, until you go right up into the ass of death. Right up in his ass. Till you find the womb of fear. And then maybe, maybe then you'll be able to find him."

She acquiesced to his lecturing - and agreed with his assessment: "But I've found this man. He's you. You are that man."

To reciprocate her earlier sodomization, Paul ordered Jeanne to clip two of her fingernails on her right hand with scissors before he let her penetrate him anally - it was part of his passionate objective to "look death right in the face...go right up into the ass of death... till you find the womb of fear."

During the aggressively scatological sex act, he spouted base, nasty and dirty obscenities and degradations. He spoke about Jeanne having sex with a vomiting pig that died, and forced her to smell its dying farts:

"I'm gonna get a pig, and I'm gonna have the pig f--k you. And I want the pig to vomit in your face, and I want you to swallow the vomit. You gonna do that for me?... I want the pig to die while you're f--king him. And then you have to go behind him to smell the dying farts of the pig. Are you gonna do all of that for me?

Jeanne dutifully responded: "Yes, and more than that! And worse. Worse than before."

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