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aka - Ciao Maschio
Italy / France 1978
Directed by
Marco Ferreri
95 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Bye Bye Monkey

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978 it would be interesting to bail up the panel now and ask them why they gave Ferreri's film the award (in a tied decision with Jerzy Skolimowski's The Shout). I suspect that they would not remember, let alone be able to explain why.

In the 1970s the absurdist, non-conventional, sexually-candid aspects of the film were all qualities that were regarded as inherently significant but times change and like so many films of its era, that significance is now far less apparent.

Broadly speaking, Ferreri's first English-language film is a Fellini-esque portrait of the male species under attack from castrating women. Gérard Depardieu stars as a lighting technician who is raped multiple times by the members of the feminist theatrical group he works for. He subsequently finds a baby chimpanzee inside the remains of a huge stuffed gorilla and starts a relationship with one of his rapists. Marcello Mastroianni as a lonely old man and James Coco as a decadent wax museum owner also move in and out of the story.

Whilst the images of the characters with the beached giant gorilla (which presumably Ferreri salvaged from Dino De Laurentis' 1976 remake of King Kong) shot against the New York skyline are haunting and there are individual moments of surreal humour throughout the film, the absence of much in the way of narrative or  characterological or dramatic development will make Ferreri's film a trial for those other than students of the era in general or of the director's work in particular.




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