Lent extra impact by director Marco Ferreri’s canny use of his actors’ real names throughout, La Grande Bouffe is a gleefully grotesque spectacle that defies all but the most literal description: four wealthy, upper-middle-class blokes lock themselves up in a lavish old chateau, hire a flock of faintly terrified hookers and attempt to eat themselves to death.
It’s every bit as revoltingly gluttonous as it sounds, skirting around any real semblance of plot or backstory in favour of ever more gruelling eating, farting and humping sequences. We don’t even know why these four ostensibly chirpy chaps (headed by the legendary Marcello Mastroianni as a moody, flesh-addicted pilot) are doing this – our best guesses are the duelling airs of mid-life desperation and listless, rich-man ennui that pervade the hideous pig-out sequences.
Distended with humour blacker than the geyser of molten effluence that eventually erupts from the lads’ overburdened plumbing, this is an unforgettable dish that slips down effortlessly thanks to a side-order of spot-on cameos and a garnish of broody, wistful camerawork.
La Grande Bouffe is up there with Requiem For A Dream and Leaving Las Vegas in terms of the soul-crushing inevitability of it all. But it’s also a sharp satire on our over-active modern appetites. Prepare to have your eyes prised open and your jaw wired shut...