1973, TSPDT Rank #250
I've been going through the films of Bernardo Bertolucci and this one really seems to stand out. Not because it was controversial for its portrayal of sexuality when it was released, but because of how personal it is. I think it feels different because it is truly HIS, dealing with himself and his desires rather than the usual political themes he focused on. He kept it no secret that Marlon Brando's character was a version of himself; and he certainly directed Brando in one of his most incredible acting roles. However, a valid criticism would be that the power of Brando's acting overpowered the other actors and subplots, including one with Maria Schneider and her fiancé, played by Jean-Pierre Leaud (brilliant child star of Truffaut's The 400 Blows). The emotionally intense story of a man who has an anonymous affair with a young, engaged stranger - using her as an outlet for his grief over his wife's recent suicide as she falls slowly in love with him - will probably not lose its raw power over time, even as our day and age makes the affair between Brando and Schneider seem more and more improbable.