There’s nothing like a good shot of insolence for getting one’s flagging career out of a rut. After the failure of his two previous films (My Best Friend’s Girl and Our Story), writer-director Bertrand Blier finally has recovered the abrasive imagination and tonic bad taste that fired some of his early films, notably Les Valseuses.
Tenue de soiree is a tart black comedy of sexuality in which, among other things, Blier energetically turns the French star system on its head. Despite his impressive range, one did not quite expect to see robust Gerard Depardieu falling for another man, especially somebody so nebbishy as Michel Blanc. Blier charges what could have been little more than a clever gay variation on the romantic triangle with a bulldozing wit and cynicism, and his talent for writing raw, bristling, strangely lyrical dialog is exhilarating.
Depardieu, a burglar whose sexual tastes have undergone a change in prison, meets a down-and-out couple (Blanc and Miou-Miou), and drags them into a series of housebreakings with promises of lucre and a new life. Blanc is hopelessly in love with his now-contemptuous mate, and naturally is disturbed when their new friend begins making advances – at him. He’s even more unsettled when he finds himself slowly giving in to Depardieu’s husky wooing. They become lovers, and shack up together, with Depardieu secretly paying off a pimp to take the now intrusive wife off their hands.