I used to think Asphalt Tangoi was a big deal. This is perhaps readily excused, it came out towards the end of the 90s, at a time when the impending end of the only time and place worth living in known to date was not really visible to most anyone. In fact, it's arguable whether it even was all that impending as a matter of necessity in the first place. 1996s MP would have been vehehehery amused at the proposition, yet less than a decade later...
The important little things are still there. Marthe Felten still curses like a desperate pirate, but the impending rape that supposedly scares her doesn't even look that bad with these new eyes. So what, they'd have had a little fun, scraped some skin, bruised some organs, then gathered themselves back up, dusted themselves off and went back to their lives. Their lives in the 90s. Yes, please. The true driver of the character's desperate rage, the "humiliation" of the child being forced to contend with the readily dispelled nature of her delusions, the forcible taking of her out of an idealised France and into a very romanticised Romania all seem by comparison much more akin salvation than any sort of injury. Ti-a trece pina te maritiii is how 1990s mothers would have dismissed their immature daughters' concerns. It sticks.
The important big things are also there. A woman who "owns the Swan Lake like her own pinky toe", a woman who is a ballerina working for the Bucharest Opera house, a woman who has "of her own free choice" and before "le pop"iii united forever and indissolubly with some schmuck leaves him a note. The note says, and I textually reproduce, that she's left him a meatloaf in the fridge and ironed all his shirts ; and that she's leaving him because although she loves him very much he nevertheless isn't man enough. Not "for her". He isn't man enough fucking period, as his own wholly owned and inescapable substance. And she'd much rather go be an abject scullery maid in an actual man's harem, to humbly await her possible eventual elevation into sexual slavery. No, she doesn't use these exact words. But she says these exact things, which are in fact the only things that actually matter. Yes, she married him notwithstanding he was a humble car mechanic and she was what'd in the time and place be called "an intellectual", ie the upper class, the only upper class of a "popular democracy" aka socialism. Nevertheless.
However, the nonsense grates immensely now, and it didn't use to grate perceptibly back then. Take, for an example, Rampling's terrifyingly bad description of the tango. Really, it's "not about seduction" ? That's what they think back in Paris ? Really, it's nonsexual, dry, just like the ugly Baltic dried up cuntiv that she is, takes her and her five sisters to extract in alcohol tincture enough tit material to adequately equip an Angora kitten ? Really, it's not timed manifestation of the subjugation of the female, it's instead some sort of expression of her imaginary superiority ? These idiots really ought to travel more.v
And in this vein continuing, really, "do you have a business card" is what separates the kids from the men in your country ? Must explain why all the two-bit Italian accountants and bartenders would come to Romania to pretend like they're businessmen for the benefit of the local "students" a weekend at a time, huh. How come they weren't going to France, though ?
Sure, "parfois savoir toucher une femme avec les mains sales fais toute la difference", but meanwhile yes Romania is very much Sicily. In fact, if it had any sense it'd have become a lot more like Sicily, and moreover "freedom" is not a state towards which the female kind aspires. For a woman, and from the female perspective, freedom is simply a synonym for sterility. Yes, in some cases, in the latrine, in the filthy den of a pathological garbage collector sterility sounds like a magnificent plan. Yet outside of those eccentric conditions, woman wants freedom exactly like slug wants saltines.
Then on top of all this there's all the plot holes. Too many to list, really, but tell me what the hell is a "drug dealer" / armed wildman doing solo in a shitty Citroen ? He's cool af and all, but how exactly does his vehicle die on the side of the road, they've never heard of maintenance, these people ?vi And how exactly is he going to take a stolen police car through customs ? And why in the blazing hells would have some foreign "cabaret" hiring agent opt to go back to Paris by bus ?! On a bus she's never seen before ? And on it goes, but why even bother really.
Merg tuspatru inspre catre ceva, intr-o directie, pin' num-aici, undeva. Aproape. Dinspretotdeauna venind, cam osteniti, cam prafuiti, da' nu mai e mult. In soarele verii pieile nude, rozalii si aurii, merg pin-aici, aproape. In picioarele goale, prin colbul proprietatii ciinilor, in Uniunea Europeana.
- 1996, by Nae Caranfil, with Charlotte Rampling, Mircea Diaconu, Florin Calinescu etc. [↩]
- It'll pass by the time you're wed. [↩]
- Diaconu's effortlessly terrible French is a fucking riot, by the way, one of the few greatnesses of this film I'm in a much better position to appreciate now than I was then. Back in 1996 it just seemed terrible. Now it's exquisitely horrid.
- Let's quote Flaubert:
Da, Doamne, ploaie, ca-s cimpurile uscate ca fluierele picioarelor coanei Pluche.
- And this is certainly an important edge I hold over that lovable character that was my own self twenty years ago. I can now say, plainly and without possible defense,
Bitch, you're going to argue with me about such things ? I lived in Buenos Aires. For years. What have you done ?
Because yes, one of the many things I've done in the interim was live in Buenos Aires for years. And I even fucking have a business card! It... doesn't say what my business is, on it, if the color fails to naturally convey.
Charlotte Rampling may have seemed clad in all the ineffable perfumes of an exotic, distant, worldly civilisation, back in 1996. Today, she's a bit player, a dusty, provincial matron that's never been to Argentina to her obvious detriment. [↩]
- The Costa Ricans haven't, by the way. We have yet to go out ever and see less than one crashed and one broken down car per dozen kilometers travelled. They're horrible drivers, and they're the worst at maintaining machinery ever. I suspect the MTBF on Costa Rican vehicles is about a good bike ride's worth. [↩]
They're all four going for towards something, in a direction, to just-here, somewhere. Close by. Fromforever coming, somewhat tired, rather dusty, but there's not much left. In the Summer Sun the nude skins, pinkish and golden, are walking up to right here, nearby. Barefoot, through the dusts of the dogs' domain, in the European Union.
It is infinitely better in Romanian. [↩]