“Bitter Moon” is one of Roman Polanski’s best and most underrated films. This is a film that polarized most critics and audiences back in the day and there’s a good chance that if you don’t love “Bitter Moon,” it will either piss you off or upset you. I don’t think there’s anyone who just “likes” or “dislikes” this film. It’s a real “love it or hate it” kind of enterprise.
The film chronicles a ocean cruise journey that a troubled married couple, named Nigel and Fiona (played by Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott-Thomas respectively), are undertaking to save their marriage. Nigel becomes infatuated with a beautiful young French woman named Mimi, played by Polanski’s real-life wife Emmanuelle Seigner. Mimi’s husband, a self-loathing and disabled drunk named Oscar (played by American actor Peter Coyote), offers his wife to Nigel, but Nigel must listen to a very long story about Oscar’s relationship with Mimi first. The story takes several days to tell and as it unfolds, we are witness to one of the most twisted views of a relationship ever committed to celluloid. It makes the marriages in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” look healthy by comparison.
However, as Nigel is getting ready to close the deal with Mimi, Mimi, Oscar, and Fiona seem to have other plans and make what’s already a very strange and creepy film even more so.
Despite the fact that “Bitter Moon” may leave you with a sour feeling in your stomach, there is a lot of humor, albeit extremely dark. In addition, the acting by the leads and the way that Polanski unfolds this very disturbing tale is terrific.
The film contains some very graphic sexuality and language and the attached European trailer (which contains nudity) is definitely not safe for work. However, if you’re looking for something audacious and envelope-pushing, “Bitter Moon” is highly recommended.