Paul describes how tantalising it is to imagine an unfettered bosom under thin cotton on a hot summer's day. Bras have a different appeal; they tease anticipation. The girl giggles and lets one of the straps of her dress slip off a shoulder. Paul replaces it deftly, like a man whose foreplay requires no revision.

They sit outside on the cafe terrace. Paul could be an accountant - short cropped hair, neat, precise, with a pragmatic mind. The girl is young. She smiles naturally, not yet confident enough to recognise that flirtation is a game two can play. She is beautiful and so doesn't have to say anything, accepting the flattery of an older man with the grace of an ingenue.

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A few tables away, Paul's wife watches and listens. Paul is so pleased with his performance, he doesn't notice. Later, on returning to his apartment, he finds her astride a taxi driver. She says she's getting her own back, has had enough of his philandering and is leaving. The taxi driver excuses himself, pulls on his clothes and tells Paul, "She didn't even ask me my name." The two commiserate on the unpredictable behavior of women.

Tango is an exquisite black comedy that flaunts its sensual baggage. Writer/director Patrice Leconte (The Hairdresser's Husband, Monsieur Hire) transforms every scene with sophisticated visual humour that is never foolish. His understanding of life's irrational twists plays havoc with logic. Women are to be enjoyed, not encouraged. La joie de vivre is a celebration of boyhood's irresponsible glamour.

When Paul (Thierry Lhermitte) decides to kill his wife because he can't live without her, he obtains the help of his bachelor uncle, the judge (Phillippe Noiret), who blackmails Vincent (Richard Bohringer), a murderous aviator, to do the deed. The three of them take off in Paul's car to find their victim, who appears to have joined an aid agency in Africa. En route, they have a series of unexpected and hilarious amorous adventures.

Noiret has the ability to behave like a child when assuming the authority of a serious man. The judge is too wise to believe that destiny has any relevance to pleasure. Human weakness can be nudged in the right direction, with a little discreet tutelage. Bohringer and Lhermitte manfully attempt to stay loyal to their respective stereotypes, as reluctant hitman and enraged husband, but succumb to the influence of the script and end up trusting their friendship in the well-oiled tradition of road movies.

Leconte treats sex like nature's revenge on the intellect. It may be delightful and absurd, but never something to die for.

Reviewed on: 07 Mar 2005
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Darkly comic road movie takes in such detours as blackmail, murder and sexual politics.
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Director: Patrice Leconte

Writer: Patrick Dewolf, Patrice Leconte

Starring: Philippe Noiret, Richard Bohringer, Thierry Lhermitte, Carole Bouquet, Jean Rochefort, Miou-Miou

Year: 1993

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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