Je t'aime moi non plus (I Love You, I Don't) Reviews
The end of this movie left me disappointed to the point that Krassky (Joe Dallesandro) failed to defend Johnny (Jane Birkin), after Padovan, his male truck-driver lover, tried to choke Johnny with a piece of bath curtain. And just because Johnny berated Krassky, he leaves with Padovan to resume their journey which started at the beginning.
So the whole movie, even if it takes slowly all the (let's say) "juicy parts", shows basically an affair of a handsome homosexual truck driver with a desperate-for-love androgynous waitress and their kinky way of lovemaking when the truck driver is "knocking on the back door" of the waitress.
The film is named after Gainsbourg's legendary, late-'60s song, but does not particularly evoke its mood. The song is lush, chic and languid, while the film slogs around a desert highway and trash dump where sweaty, unwashed people wear old clothes and speak with crude syntax. I don't believe the geographical location is specified, but it certainly feels more American than European.
Krassky (Dallesandro) and his hot-tempered lover Padovan (Hugues Quester) are garbagemen who drive a beat-up yellow truck with a girlie ornament on the grill. When the film opens on a bloody crow carcass stuck in the windshield wiper, we immediately know the story won't be afraid to push the boundaries of good taste.
The two pull into a roadside food-and-gas joint, and Krassky is immediately smitten with the beautiful, androgynous girl behind the counter (Birkin). Nicknamed "Johnny," she has short hair and favors tank tops and jeans. Birkin's flat chest adds to the unisex effect. Her boss (Reinhard Kolldehoff) is an brutish older man whose identifying trait is his unavoidable "wind" (in other words, he constantly farts). So much for highbrow appeal.
A cautious romance grows between Krassky and Johnny, while Padovan jealously seethes. But the film is awfully slow in building this relationship. The couple doesn't have sex until after the halfway point, and the song itself doesn't enter until a half-hour has passed. Considering the film is only 89 minutes, its slack pace breeds more impatience than it should.
Once the pairing turns intimate, Krassky's bisexuality becomes crucial: He can only enjoy sex through treating Johnny like a boy and taking her anally. She howls in pain, but endures the indignity out of love. (Wouldn't a "doggie style" compromise be arousing enough for him?) Padovan is understandably peeved about being neglected, and it's just a matter of time before this triangle explodes into conflict.
The sex scenes are not stimulating to watch (possibly by design) and, unfortunately, Birkin is one of those photogenic waifs who looks much better in clothes than out of them. Nevertheless, she is naked during much of the film, twisted into unflattering positions. She deserves respect for a brave performance.
The young Gerard Depardieu has a fruitless cameo, delivering a few lines and turning up in the background now and then. Gainsbourg does not appear onscreen, but does supply a jaunty piano theme that turns quite infectious with repetition.
Would that tiny oasis in the boonies really have its own roller-derby arena?
"Je T'aime moi non plus" is a film made to be watched with an open mind.