Grandeur Nature (1974)

It would appear that I like movies about grown men who play with dolls. Earlier this year I finally reviewed Joel Seria's Marie Poupee, which has found a place in my personal canon. I'm always looking for movies about dolls. Big and small, Scary or sweet, sexual or innocent. I have a small but decent doll collection myself and the idea of men (or women for that matter, though I haven't found any movies like that) fetishizing dolls is a perversion I find fascinating.

Where in Marie Poupee, Claude is secretive about what he likes to do with dolls and doll-like girls, Michel from Grandeur Nature (played by famed Frenchman, Michel Piccoli) is just the opposite. He's PROUD of his doll. He's open about her as if she's his 19 year old trophy girlfriend. Claude likes to dress and bathe his dolls - but nothing "improper". Michel on the other hand, is constantly humping and displaying her nudity for all to see.

Michel and his wife are in an open marriage, which she's growing increasingly tired of. You get the sense that Michel has been sexually active and is not at all limited to the company of a rubber doll. His bravado exudes experience which has brought him to a place of boredom. His wife is younger,  attractive, and generally OK with him having extra-marital affairs (at least on a surface level), yet he still becomes distant. He's fallen into complete obsession with his Japanese Love Doll, so much that he's lost the taste for real flesh. At one point his wife tries to emulate the doll. This is obviously a final attempt to regain attention from her husband. He throws her around and stuffs her in a closet like an inanimate object. As she cries he reminds her that the doll doesn't cry, doesn't complain, doesn't want for things and is there only to silently serve him. She moves out that week.

As the narrative unfolds his frustrations surface; his dominance and jealousy are revealed. He blames the doll for the sexual attention she gains from the people he flaunts her to. He beats, strangles, abuses, rapes her and finally, has her commit a ritual-like suicide. Once a fair haired beauty, he paints her like a goth slut, as reflective of his feelings toward her.

This movie is not remotely subtle in it's message of sexual objectification. And yes, she IS an object but she's made to look like a woman. It's no secret that Michel has a disdain for women. It's practically rubbed in our face. He's such an absurd man, it's almost impossible to be offended by it. At the end of the day, he's kind of a sad joke. It seems even in a relationship with and object he can't manage to keep himself together. There's something far less sinister about Michel than our previous Doll fondler, Claude. He's simply aware and comfortable with his own kinkiness. Though of course it catches up with him eventually. A person who becomes sexually and romantically obsessed with a thing unravels when their passion boils over from an unresponsive prize.

One thing I noticed is the frequency of scatological dialog. At least three or four times throughout the movie Michel talks about peeing. He even walks in on a hooker peeing and she jumps up out of shock, where we get the pleasure of seeing her full bush. The film never quite crosses that threshold but I was half expecting water sports to come into play. The other perversion that's burned into my brain was when his housekeeper's baby is napping with the sex doll and takes to the tit as if it were full of mother's milk. The image is unshakable. It cannot be shook.

The film never secures itself firmly in a genre. It has comedic elements but isn't a comedy, and it's too farcical (and gross) to be a drama. It's truly an unsung little fetishy cult gem that has somehow slipped through the cracks. It's nowhere near as layered as Marie Poupee. If these films were the psychic apparatus, Marie Poupee would be the Ego and Grandeur Nature would be the Id. It functions on an unconscious level. The organic meets the inorganic and an almost buffoon-like willfulness against his own humanity, only to be met with inevitable coldness and unfulfillment.

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