Once again, the brilliant Arrow Films have taken an old favourite and given it a suped-up, cleaned-up, extras-filled Blu-ray release. This time the film in question is Marco Ferreri’s 1973 mildly dark comedy, La Grande Bouffe.
In terms of plot, the film finds four long-standing friends take up residence in a country mansion. The simple aim of the game is to gorge themselves on as much food as possible... well, until they also decide to add some female company into the mix. As such, three whores and a teacher end up at this party of excess and decadence, but maybe all in question have bitten off more than they can chew.
The end result of La Grande Bouffe is seemingly what you’d get if you plonked a couple of Carry On movies, a few Confessions of a… movies and a large dollop of European arthouse in a blender and hit full speed for just over 2 hours. Despite the odd premise and risqué sexual element, there are actually plenty of laugh-out-loud moments dotted throughout La Grande Bouffe’s runtime. Particular humour comes from the sexed-up Marcello, with his smutty tone remiss of a French Sid James (or even our very own Assistant Editor, Martin), although all involved in this feast of overindulgence get their moments to shine in equal measure.
Somewhere buried within the plot of food and sex, Ferreri’s film does have some semblance of irony and, dare we say, meaning. As the sounds-good-on-paper plan of indulgence begins to spiral out of control, there is a clear message of overdoing things, with each person’s particular vices coming back to bite them on the proverbial backside.
The style and shooting of La Grande Bouffe is as lavish and as full of colour as its exquisite dining tables, and the film gushes vibrancy, character and detail at every corner. Holding it all together is our central foursome (all using their real first names for their characters – Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret), as all have their little quirks and differing characterisations that slowly start to unravel throughout the film. Then there’s Andrea Ferreol as the apparent delicate flower of a school teacher who it soon becomes clear is up for arguably even more of a good time than anyone else involved in this plentiful party of profligacy.
As ever with these recent Arrow releases, we’ve got a crisp, enhanced new transfer of the film, which adds even further to its charm. Yes, it might be mad as a box of frogs at times, but La Grande Bouffe is a tasty offering in bizarre-but-brilliant cinema.
Special Features: The Farcical Movie feature on Marco Ferreri / Behind-the-scenes footage with cast and crew interviews / Extracts from Couleurs autour d’un festival with cast and crew interviews / Selected scene commentary / News report from Cannes Film Festival / Visual essay / Trailer / Collector’s booklet
LA GRANDE BOUFFE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MARCO FERRERI / SCREENPLAY: MARCO FERRERI, RAFAEL AZCONA, FRANCIS BLANCHE / STARRING: MARCELLO MASTROIANNI, MICHEL PICCOLI, UGO TOGNAZZI, PHILIPPE NOIRET, ANDREA FERREOL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW