A Subversive Cherry Bomb


Bernardo Bertolucci was only 28, with two features already behind him, when he birthed this high-spirited, subversive 1968 cherry bomb, which adapts Dostoyevsky’s The Double to student-revolution-era Italy, where the wiry, vampiric Pierre Clémenti plays a romantic and causeless rebel whose radical consciousness is awakened once his doppelg appears to incite chaos and spur him on. Or something: Partner is not only an energetic thumb-nosing fossil of ’60s fragmentation, cinematic upset, and sub-Marxist yowlings, but a double as well, oedipally haunted by the pathfinding precedents of Godard (primary among Bertolucci’s anxious influences were La Chinoise and Two or Three Things I Know About Her) and of France itself. (In one of the DVD’s multiple interviews, it’s reported that Clémenti would fly to Paris on the weekends and bring Bertolucci back the latest in protest slogans.) Presaging both Fight Club and Kurosawa’s Doppelgänger , and girded with an Ennio Morricone score as deliberately disjunctive as the narrative, Partner clearly hip-links Freud and Marx, and might be the first conscientiously Lacanian movie. The double-disc set includes screen tests, outtakes, essays, a lengthy promotional making-of doc made at the time of shooting, and an entire second film: His Day of Glory (1969), the rarely seen sole project directed by Italian critic-editor-scholar Edoardo Bruno.