Not Very Nice

film 2 of 7

Sweet Movie

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 10, 2015

The virgin pageant might be admissible, and the Buñuel, L’Atalante and Last Tango quotes suggest proper, substantial precedents for the extremely adult material on display here. Even the preposterous Mr. Kapital part has a certain outlandish validity and meaning to it. Arguably valid, if severely pushing envelopes.

But director Dušan Makavejev is only getting underway; things get increasingly, calculatedly more offensive, at the same time that they get decreasingly, chaotically more meaningless. In the end it seems to me that Sweet Movie is finally, merely, utterly obscene. I’m thinking of three sequences. Adults are one thing, but those are actual young children being corrupted before our eyes as that poor woman (“you want me in your movie?”) cavorts painfully around them.

The Otto Muehl stuff—look it up, if you dare—is actually really interesting. On paper these Artaud/Janov/Reich-type ideas have a certain validity. Of course, on the evidence of this sequence, when put into practice they become the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Man! I have to say though that these people really do know how to barf.

Finally, most ridiculous and awful and poignant of all, we have the big climactic wallow in the chocolate bath. The final line of dialogue is well taken. “We’re going to sell that chocolate!” It’s true that terrible objectifications and corruptions go on in the name and for the sake of selling. It seems fair, even necessary, that people would say as much in a confrontational manner. But did this bunch notice how utterly they’ve objectified—humiliated!—their lead actress on the way to making their point? Wow! Maybe A Clockwork Orange isn’t so bad after all.

Pulling back a bit, I found that the whole sugar bed thing that provides the film not only with its title but its erstwhile theme, is kind of R-rated okay. You and I might not portray the idea in this fashion. We might not have the idea even cross our mind. Still, it’s something.

But then they all blow it again, and most irredeemably. The Katyn massacre, eh? Don’t be doing this, and then presumptuously bringing up that! Jerks.