25 November 2018 | dbdumonteil
The ballad of Bobby.
Juliet Berto was par excellence the cerebral actress:her filmography includes highbrow stuff,the likes of Godard and Rivette ;however ,for her first movie, she shows us the dark side of the neons of Pigalle, Barbès-Rochechouart with its losers,its junkies ,its transvestites and prostitutes ;the world of the thirties Realisme Poétique (Carné,Duvivier,Grémillon) transferred to the hard realities of the early eighties .
The boulevards are places where you can find cheap entertainment , fleeting pleasure : it looks like a permanent fairground ,with strip-tease galore ;in the cafés ,pimps and hookers, underdogs waiting for something to happen ,or " for their man" ,who brings them "snow" or heroine .For lack of happiness, everybody's looking for substitutes.
The detective side is not important and does not really interest the viewer ;but Berto's depiction of this shady milieu is thoroughly fascinating :when a dealer dies ,killed by drugs squad agents , we follow Anita ,a good-hearted waitress,who tries to help a young transvestite ,Betty ,whose withdrawal symptoms are bluntly depicted, to find more dope .The director does not argue or judge : where is evil?the taxi driver ,who , to save his wife from jail, informs against dealer Bobby? Bobby himself ,who sells his lethal stuff ?the drugs squad cops who fire at the dealers ,or would be ones ?Anita ,who never speaks of detox ?(and however ,she mothers her protégé)
It is essentially a night movie, but night lights are not enough to sweep darkness away ;the final song by Bernard Lavilliers ("Ballade De bobby", showing a strong influence by Gainsbourg) prolongs the painful atmosphere of a harrowing work.