13 January 2020

Claude Faraldo's Bof...Anatomie d'un livreur | Who Cares: Anatomy of a Delivery Boy (1971)

Bof...Anatomie d'un livreur begins with a quotation from Paul Lafargue's Droit à l'ivresse (1848) (The Right to Be Lazy), a seminal anti-work book which inspired Moustaki to write a song of the same name praising the writer and his ideas. Moustaki of course was a friend of Albert Cossery, who shared the same views as Lafargue and embedded them in the heroes of his novels. Although La Jeune Morte (1965) is Faraldo's first made film, it wasn't in fact released so Bof can be considered as his first film. But rather more obscure even Themroc, it hasn't quite managed the cult status of the latter.

Also unlike Themroc,  Bof has clearly discernable words. It begins with the nameless son (Julian Negulesco) living with his nameless mother (Marie Mergey) and father (Paul Crauchet). We see the son starting his first job for wine firm Noé, using a small delivery cart.* Often he has to climb many stairs to reach Parisian apartments, which with fifteen one-litre bottles is a great deal for anyone, and he arrives at his first customer exhausted, but not too exhausted to have sex with her.

The son later befriends a black road sweeper and on his way home catches the eye of Germaine (Marie Dubois), who responds rather tantalisingly to him but they don't have a conversation. Another day, though, she slouches in the window with her legs spread out, giving the son a few view of her underwear. He soon passes his test to drive a lorry full of wine: obviously a huge improvement. The son decides he's leaving home to live with Germaine, and his father keeps patting him on the back telling his son so many times that it's normal that it is evidently having a great effect on him: his wife is not exactly a bundle of fun.

And so we see a great change in the father, and although the viewer doesn't directly see anything, it seems reasonably clear that he kills his wife (as he later confesses to his son). And he hesitates a great deal before deciding to forget about work, so he sits by the river and throws his clocking-in card in it, visits his wife's grave and basks in the sun. He later, workless, joins his son and partner in their home, and is even allowed to have sex with Germaine, but not without a number of unspoken, embarrassed gestures which Germaine finds quite astonishing: why can't they just tell her what's wanted of her, and of course she agrees.

Soon the trio becomes a quartet when the father sees Nana (Marie-Hélène Breillat) about to pocket a dress but puts it back on the rail when she sees him looking through the window, although he enters the shop and stuffs the flimsy article in his hat. Soon too, both father and son are sleeping with Nana: it's a kind of commune anyway, isn't it?

The son continues his deliveries until he damages the lorry driving off the verge of the road, but he goes home and they all decide – with the road sweeper too – to go off to 'the south'.

This film by no means has the impact of Themroc, doesn't have a similar star-filled cast, but you can certainly see what Faraldo was working towards, see a vision of utopia in there: workless society with sexual freedom, etc. Themroc confused a number of people, and others thought Bof and Themroc a mere product of their times, but Faraldo continued to believe in these ideas up to his death in 2008.

*Claude Faraldo had a job for a number of years delivering Nicolas wine. This part of the film is in great detail, and is really difficult to watch, such are the obviously autobiographical details that Faraldo puts into the effort of the son to manage the stairs with his great load.

No comments: