Thursday, October 28, 2021

Maso et Miso vont en bateau (Delphine Seyrig Nadja Ringart Carole Roussopoulos Ioana Wieder, 1975)


The irresistible Maso et Miso vont en bateau takes off from a jaw-dropping 1975 French TV show marking the end of the UN’s “Year of the Woman”, introduced by Bernard Pivot, pitting the Secrétaire d'État à la Condition féminineFrancoise Giroud, against various misogynistic provocations. Perhaps in part out of a desire to appear convivial, Giroud provides accommodating and passive responses to even the worst excesses, such that even Pivot seems taken aback and tries to prompt her otherwise, with little success. Maso et Miso preserves the event in what seems like reasonably complete form, while replaying various cringe-inducing moments for maximum effect, and disrupting the flow with written and aural counterpoints; the overall effect is funny, outraged, sarcastic, disgusted, and deadly serious. The fact of the movie being the product of four woman directors, all identified only by their first names (Delphine Seyrig is the best known of the four) makes its own statement, placing it firmly outside traditional modes of industrial production (the closing scrawl throws Giroud a conciliatory bone, suggesting that no woman could have succeeded in representing a feminine viewpoint under such circumstances); that’s in common to the female director of Pivot’s show, whom he conspicuously praises for her professionalism, before in the next breath commenting on her beauty, apparently on the basis that if this weren’t explicitly stated, then everyone would necessarily assume that a competent woman must be unattractive. The film is crammed with moments – such as the chef who argues that a woman can’t be a great cook because she’s perpetually distracted by questions such as what stockings to wear (a premise absorbed by Giroud with barely a peep) – that would be hilarious if they didn’t speak to such a wasteland of lived experience; when Giroud pronounces at the end that “the fight continues,” it’s impossible to know what she has in mind, but at least Maso et Miso vont en bateau breathes life into the statement.

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