2 December 2007 | perspectiveoffice
Excellent portrayal of Don Juan as a dirty old man
Aged lothario rides around Spain ogling young girls and drinking: Jacques Weber channels an aged Marlon Brando (at least in looks). His long wild hair, irreverent perspective on life, and degenerate old-aged girth (what a paunch!) give him (as Don Juan) the quintessential dirty old man look.
This is not the classic Don Juan, but portrays what Don Juan would be in his mid 50's -- an aging, fat, would-be lothario.
The movie is clearly the self-indulgent fantasy of Jacques Weber, who rides around on an absolutely splendid horse that is trained with all the classic horse-skills of Spanish riding. (I enjoyed watching the horse as much as anything in the movie!) He encapsulates the essence of an aged playboy wandering around the Spanish countryside trying to have flings with 20-year old girls. His nobleman father (who looks younger than Don Juan does and in fact has a far more grandiose lifestyle!) heartily disapproves. The movie is a biting satire of several very sad and real segments of society.
Don Juan himself degenerates into drink, eating too much, and an occasional swordfight. Over time he admits learns that the "worthy" honesty of being a playboy is less valued in society than stark hypocrisy. Although he gives in briefly to such hypocrisy (mostly to avoid a creditor), he never submits for very long.
He lives "well" (although mostly as a wandering vagrant) until his sudden dying day. Meanwhile his devoted and ostensibly devout servant (who lives vicariously through his master's excesses), becomes a beggar immediately upon Don Juan's death. Apparently, the moral is that the wages of pure devotion is beggardom, once your master dies.
There is liberal jabs at religious zeal, with the servant being the mouthpiece for an endless stream of confused religious aphorisms and trite sayings, which Don Juan ridicules.
This is anything but a Puritan moral story. It is an extremely real and penetrating glimpse into the soul of middle and old aged dirty old men, and as such is exactly right. It is a French film, and therefore portrays the human condition far more realistically than any American film could.
Did I see my own father (himself a middle/old-aged lothario) and many older men I know in Jacques Weber's Don Juan? You bet. In fact, my father saw himself accurately portrayed in the film, and he himself enjoyed it immensely for that reason.
This is a unique film in that regard, and is likely to be enjoyed more by those who have lived life well and love the intricacies of the human condition.