"La Truite" ("The Trout") is Joseph Losey's next-to-last film, and according to biographer David Caute, it never received a commercial release in Britain. Largely chastised by reviewers after its festival premieres, Losey had wanted to adapt Roger Vaillard's last novel since the late Sixties with Brigitte Bardot as the film's sexually charged, childish lead, but the project didn't become a reality until Isabelle Huppert entered the scene in the late Seventies.
Monique Lange (co-writer of the affectionate, character-based "Goodbye, Emmanuelle" sequel) and director Losey reduced the novel's multiple perspectives from three characters to one, moved the period from the Sixties to the Eighties, and transposed the key location of America to Japan. Alexander Trauner's set décor is exquisite, and Henri Alekan's cinematography balances a diffused warmth for the excellent Japanese sequences, and cold temperatures for the French locations. Richard Hartley's pop songs seriously date the film, however, his electronic underscore and Losey's precise sound design convey a dream-like atmosphere in the original mono mix.
In an extensive interview with French author Michael Ciment (published in 1985), the director articulated his fascination with the novel's depiction of the corrupt lives of international financiers, and the coldness of multinational corporations - then quite a unique phenomenon during the Sixties. Imposing a minimalist style on the dialogue and threadbare characters, these approaches, alongside the film's modernistic visuals, make Losey's critically maltreated experiment slightly contemporary, particularly when placed alongside two recent and more extreme theme variations: "Lost In Translation," Sophia Coppola's witty, incisive, and emotionally intimate character piece set in corporate Tokyo; and "Demonlover," Olivier Assayas' sexually charged, multi-genre, cyber-corporate satire.
For those who cherish Losey's more overt social commentaries from his British period, "La Truite" will likely remain a thoroughly frustrating, pretentious indulgence that terminated a once arresting career. HVE's DVD, however, makes it possible to see one of the director's three rare French productions - poorly distributed works that also include "Les Routes du sud" (1978), and "Monsieur Klein" (1976) - and revisit a visually opulent meditation on the malaise that affects the corporate elite.
Joseph Losey's "Time Without Pity" is also available from HVE.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan