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Bitter Moon

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France, United Kingdom · 1992
Rated R · 2h 19m
Director Roman Polanski
Starring Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emmanuelle Seigner, Peter Coyote
Genre Drama, Romance, Thriller

Fiona and Nigel are sailing to Istanbul en route to India. Nigel encounters a beautiful woman and her crippled husband Oscar, who tells him their story: while living in Paris, he became obsessed with a woman, who enslaves him with her love. Oscar soon found himself drowning in this relationship, but he cannot get out of it...

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What are critics saying?


Washington Post by

With its musty scenario of a dissolute middle-aged man and a clingy, devouring child-woman, 60-year-old co-writer/director/producer Polanski's film smacks of wish-fulfillment and self-justification.


Newsweek by David Ansen

Recklessly perched on the edge of the ludicrous, this examination of a destructive erotic passion unfolds with an unsettling mixture of steam and mordant iron.


Variety by Derek Elley

Four years after Frantic, Roman Polanski approaches rock bottom with Bitter Moon, a phony slice of huis clos drama between two couples aboard a Euro ocean liner. Strong playing by topliner Peter Coyote can't compensate for a script that's all over the map and a tone that veers from outre comedy to erotic game-playing.


Slant Magazine by Eric Henderson

As easy as it would be to make rude connections between the film’s raunchy shenanigans and Polanski’s own history, the fact is that Bitter Moon doesn’t feel like either an explanation, an apology, nor a defense of the kinky sexual games adults play. Think of it as Polanski’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.


ReelViews by James Berardinelli

This is bad melodrama, complete with hammy acting and purple prose, and far too long to be even passingly entertaining. It's soap opera quality, from beginning to sensationalistic end.


Chicago Reader by Jonathan Rosenbaum

With its American, English, and French characters representing the three cultures Polanski has known since he left Poland, it's also quite possibly his most personal film—and certainly his most self-critical.


Austin Chronicle by Marc Savlov

A disturbing, spare story and a return to Polanski's earlier thematic grounds; it's not Knife in the Water, but it does feature fragmenting marriages and a big boat.


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

Bitter Moon is wretched excess. But Polanski directs it without compromise or apology, and it's a funny thing how critics may condescend to it, but while they're watching it you could hear a pin drop.

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