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Montenegro (1981)

Cast: Susan Anspach, Susan Anspach, Erland Josephson, more...
Director: Dusan Makavejev, Dusan Makavejev
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Studio: Fox Lorber
Genre: Comedies, Foreign, British Comedy, Scandinavia, Dysfunctional Families, UK
Running Time: 97 min.
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Marilyn Jordan (Susan Anspach), an American-born housewife, mother, and socialite living in Sweden, is crumbling under the weight of her own existence. She deeply resents her husband Martin's (Erland Josephson) frequent holiday absences and his indifferent attitude toward their two children ("If they are going to grow up in today's world," he admits, "it's about time they faced the fact that nobody keeps promises anymore"). Moreover, Marilyn's eccentric father (who believes he is Buffalo Bill and fires off guns in the house to prove it) and her children -- who hatch an outrageous plan to set up a dating service for senior citizens -- start to drive her completely around the bend. Marilyn feels herself domestically imprisoned -- encased in a bell jar. Her subsequent behavior grows not simply eccentric, but irrational and then comically outrageous. She cooks wiener schnitzel for the entire family, but eats it all herself; unsuccessfully attempts to poison the family beagle; and -- convinced that insects are attacking her during the night -- showers the plant above her bed with bug repellent, much to Martin's consternation. Finally, irritated by Martin's sexual indifference to her, Marilyn manages to get his attention in a last, desperate move by setting his bed on fire late one night. Deeply concerned, Martin consults psychologist Dr. Pazardjian (Per Oscarsson), who does little to help Marilyn and (indeed) turns out to be even nuttier than any of the members of the Jordan family. Via a comic security mix-up, Marilyn later becomes stranded at the Stockholm airport and hitches a ride with a band of horny Yugoslavian immigrants celebrating the new year; they take her to their ZanziBar nightclub for a couple of days, where she begins to break out of her domestic prison by engaging in a torrid extramarital affair with randy Slavic zookeeper Montenegro and by performing as a one-time chaunteuse on-stage. Eventually, Marilyn's family beckons for her to return -- but her brush with independence has made her a very different woman, indeed. Montenegro marked controversial writer/director Dusan Makavejev's English-language debut, and earned widespread critical raves for Anspach's career-defining performance. ~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Steamy but not quite successful by Texan99 September 9, 2010 - 1:44 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
What a surprise this film was in 1981. The music, Marianne Faithful's "Ballad of Lucy Jordan," perfectly matches this fable of a repressed Northern European housewife who is plunged into tawdry Yugoslavian confusion by a plot device involving airport customs. The movie's black comedic tone is harsh. Susan Anspach inspires our intermittent compassion as she grasps for some scrap of feeling among these nutjob smugglers, who at least have retained a little messy humanity in their chilly adopted country, but she is not a fully formed human being, only a tourist doing a little slumming. She forms a painful crush on one of the members of the underworld she visits, which ends badly, and then she returns to her ice palace of a home for a weird but strangely satisfying denouement. A mess, really, but its tone of insistent longing affected me powerfully when I saw it at the age of 25.

This title is currently unavailable on disc or is no longer in-print.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.67)
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