Bitter Moon is a 1992 film starring Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emmanuelle Seigner and Peter Coyote and directed by Roman Polanski. The film is known as Lunes de fiel (a pun on "Lune de Miel", which is 'Honeymoon') in France. The script is inspired by a book with the same name, written by the French author Pascal Bruckner. The score was composed by Vangelis. Stockard Channing appears briefly in the uncredited role of Beverly, a literary agent who criticizes Oscar's affecting the persona of an American writer in Paris as passé and unmarketable. A prim and proper British couple, Fiona (Thomas) and Nigel (Grant), are on a Mediterranean cruise ship to Istanbul, en route to India. They encounter another couple on the ship, the seductive French woman Mimi (Seigner) and her paraplegic American husband Oscar (Coyote), a failed, jaded, cynical, acerbic, self-centered writer. The story unfolds as Oscar invites Nigel to his cabin. Nigel accepts the invitation because he is attracted to Mimi. In his cabin, Oscar recalls, in a series of episodes, how he and the much younger Mimi met on a bus in Paris and fell in love; and then how their relationship went horribly wrong.
Certainly a case of deja vu for Hugh Grant, Bitter Moon finds the big Hugh playing hide the little Hugh with a girl he meets on a ship to Istanbul (Emmanuelle Seigner). The only problem is that the wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) doesn’t really approve. And then there’s the matter of the girl’s husband (Peter Coyote), who sends Grant on the chase to start with.
Why is he bound to a wheelchair? How did the innocent couple turn so perverted? Coyote’s story talks about bondage, golden showers, and even ends up with Coyote crawling around on the floor, grunting while he wears a pig mask.
The sum of this is an extremely twisted psycho-thriller that is nonetheless oddly compelling. Determining how much of this is due to the fact that Seigner dumps milk all over herself is left as an exercise for the viewer.
Regardless of what you think about the story (and it was widely panned in its initial release), it’s a real departure from Roman Polanski’s body of work. Even twisted tales like Chinatown had a moral base. No such luck here. It’s depravity all the way across the Mediterranean Sea.
Look beyond the titillation. In the end, this is a story about the boundaries of love and how easy we can flip between the two emotions. It’s a tale of sadism and masochism, and how seemingly ordinary people can be drawn into fetishes. It’s not a movie for everyone, just like putting on a pig mask and rooting around the bedroom isn’t for all tastes, but the openminded can relate to the movie on some level.
The rest of you can just ogle Seigner’s body to your heart’s content.
Aka Lunes de fiel.