Wednesday, November 3, 2021

#2,656. Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk (2018)


It was 1978’s Behind Convent Walls that introduced me to the movies of Walerian Borowczyk, and I was instantly hooked. Both The Beast and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne strengthened my respect for the filmmaker, who skillfully blended such time-honored genres as comedy, drama, and romance with pure, unadulterated erotica.

Love Express is a 2018 documentary that delves into the great director’s work, from his early days in animation (shorts that inspired, among others, Terry Gilliam and Neil Jordan, both of whom are interviewed in this movie) to his output in the 1980s, by which point he had been branded a sleaze merchant (he was hired to direct Emmanuelle V, but walked off the set following an argument with an actress).

Borowczyk’s penchant for the erotic would ultimately be his downfall; with The Beast a box-office sensation, producers hounded him to include nudity and sex in every film going forward, while others refused to hire him because of his reputation as a smut peddler. To watch this movie is to see that Walerian Borowczyk was so much more than the cinematic community gave him credit for, and when left to his own vision, was capable of producing greatness.

Featuring clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with those who worked with and admired Barowczyk, Love Express stands as a testament to his abilities as a filmmaker, and a tragic account of a talent that never was permitted to shine as brightly as it could have.
Rating: 9 out of 10

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