Scriptwriters: Étienne Roda-Gil, Andrzej Żuławski
Director: Andrzej Żuławski
Composer: Stanislas Syrevicz
Production designer: Dominique André
Costume designer: Olga Pelletier
Cast: Francis Huster, Sophie Marceau, Tchéky Karyo, Christiane Jean, Michel Albertini, Pauline Lafont, Alain Flick
Having warmed up doing his first French film "The Public Woman" (1984), where the plot centered on the shooting of a picture based on Dostoevsky's "The Demons", the next year Andrzej Żuławski took up an actual adaptation of the classical Russian writer. However, one needs to clarify right away: only the love triangle of Prince Myshkin, Porfiry Rogozhin, and Nastasya Filippovna, who changed their names to Léon, Micky, and Marie, respectively, and moved to Paris of the 1980s, remained from the novel “The Idiot". Stylistically close to the “cinema du look” (“Diva” by Jean-Jacques Beineix (1981), “Subway” by Luc Besson (1985), “Bad Blood” by Leos Carax (1986)), the film was nevertheless made in the unique frenzied and frantic manner of Żuławski.
Francis Huster, who played the tyrant director in “The Public Woman”, has a seizure every five minutes of screen time; however, the rest of the heroes keep up with him. Tchéky Karyo is a villainous caricature. Eighteen-year-old Sophie Marceau, the director's mistress, who was 26 years her senior, strips naked, cries, and rolls her eyes madly in the best traditions of Isabelle Adjani in “Possession” (1981). The rest of the actors enliven the background of the film with a series of grotesque grimaces and wild pirouettes, deafening laughter and gnashing of teeth.
Physiology was always important to Żuławski. If in the novel Rogozhin burned with a completely carnal passion for Nastasya Filippovna, then the idiot prince saw behind her desecrated beauty the bright ideal of a saint. In “Mad Love”, Léon-Myshkin is able to love Marie-Nastasya Filippovna not only platonically. At the same time, he is ready to endure any humiliation from her, and having lost his virginity, at the time of ejaculation, he thinks he is bleeding, that is, he actually changes places with a woman. In general, fluids and bodily discharges take up a lot of space in the film: saliva (at some point Léon spits into the camera), urine (he also relieves himself on a leg of one of the bandits), semen, blood, wine, rain. This fluidity has something of alchemy with its striving to transform matter and bring it to a state of perfection, to master the highest suprasensible knowledge. Occultism and shamanic practices interested Żuławski to a no lesser extent than the mystery of the female nature. The same themes are raised in "She-Shaman" (1996), and, of course, in "Possession" (1981), but it was in "Mad Love" that Dostoevsky's figure seemed to give the director carte blanche - the opportunity to rush at full steam and not stop, to give a monologue without stopping for breaths to the accompaniment of the 80s electric beat of Stanislas Syrevicz.
The film is noticeably exhausting with its continuous hysteria, editing and rhythm, but at the same time it strikes the imagination with its inventiveness and ingenuity. At the same time, one should not forget about the author’s peculiar sense of humor, close to slapstick, and about the abundance of implicit film quotes. For example, the inserted story of Marie's revenge on her mother's lovers, constant gunfights and car bombings refer to the classics of the Italian Eurocrime of the 1970s, and the recording on an old videotape in a case of "Gone with the Wind" resembles the scene of the invasion of a strange house from "A Clockwork Orange". Micky himself, with his gang of grimacing scum, is quite close to Alex and his droogs: the only things missing are bowler hats and codpieces. And the final carnage would have looked quite appropriate in a film by Sam Peckinpah. In this mixture of genre, as in an alchemical crucible, an amazing homunculus is born, the "Down House" of the arthouse, the mutated "Idiot", which may well offend the admires of the classics, but will remain in the hearts of fans of the bold iconoclast cinema.
Based on the novel "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Immediately after a bank robbery, the leader of a band of gangsters Micky takes a train to Paris with his accomplices. On the way, he meets the eccentric Léon and invites him to spend time in his jolly crowd. Their mutual liking is spoiled by the appearance of Marie, Micky's girl, with whom Léon immediately falls in love. The resulting love triangle will lead all three to a tragic ending.