COLD MOON aka LUNE FROIDE (1991)
A Film by Patrick Bouchitey
COLD MOON is another Euro restructuring of some Bukowski stories... this time it's COPULATING MERMAID OF VENUS and TROUBLE WITH THE BATTERY. It's hard to call either COLD MOON or CRAZY LOVE adaptations of Bukowski's work... they expand and change the original works so much. But like CRAZY LOVE, COLD MOON is pretty good. It's certainly lesser than BARFLY and FACTOTUM, but it's still some sleazy Bukowski-inspired stuff with more good aspects than bad.
I don't know what it is about European directors, but they have a thing for Bukowski's rougher stuff. First we get the vagina getting stitched up in TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS, and now COLD MOON has the same corpse-fucking tale as the third part of CRAZY LOVE.
COPULATING MERMAID OF VENUS is about two drunk guys who steal a corpse for a laugh, and then discover it's a beautiful woman. Well, that makes up the last third of COLD MOON, and it's reasonably well handled. It's understandably grubby, but you feel enough about one of the characters (the balding Simon) that you feel a degree of pity for him.
The rest of the movie is more typical road movie/buddy fare, with Simon hooking up with his loopy friend Dede. Dede is played by the film's director Patrick Bouchitey, and he's the film's main weakness. Dede is portrayed as insane, from pulling the legs off flies to humping like a wild animal. The problem is the movie tries to establish him as likeable - the boozy Bukowski outsider - but fails to make him enough of an outsider. He just comes across a goofy fucking idiot, playing air guitar to rock records and whining like a child. CRAZY LOVE and - of course - FACTOTUM and BARFLY capture much more of the likeably fucked-up yet savvy drunk that makes up the Bukowski books. It's a big miss in COLD MOON.
But there is stuff to appreciate in the movie. It's beautifully shot in black and white, with some nicely composed scenes. You get a real feel for grubby backstreets, never-ending roads, and the desolate beach. And it's not so arty as to slow down the pace of the movie. For all its nice shots, the movie moves along quickly in its hour-and-a-half... nicely teasing us with the fact Simon has something that is haunting him (that cold gal from the end I talked about).
COLD MOON also has a couple of engagingly odd additions. At one stage, Dede stays with his sister and her husband. Dede and Simon watch on as they bitch at each other, and the husband gets progressively more annoyed at Dede. There's some insight into relationships and family here, and it's nice how the couple don't just break up... they end up just having make-up sex.
Another surprising scene is when Simon visits his mother and brother. The cliche would be for him to have an abusive mother, but she's actually a sweet and happy woman. Simon's brother has cerebral palsy and they have a nice scene together where he helps his kid brother to some booze and a puff on a cigarette. Again, this all makes us like Simon. He's just a nice guy who happens to fall in love with a dead gal.
Give COLD MOON a chance. It won't blow your mind, but it's an interesting way to spend 90 minutes of your life. Plus you have the kudos of being one of only a few thousand folks that have seen the movie since it got an honourable mention at Cannes in 1991.
Review by Steve Hussy