Blu-ray review: Eating Raoul

After the prudish post-war years and the stifled ‘50s, America was rocked by the sexual revolution. Which coincided with the free love movement and the emancipation of women from their sexual chains. What reached its height at Woodstock gradually evolved and eventually rotted. By the early 1980s, swingers were more likely to be viewed as a laughing stock rather than hip and cool. Earting Raoul takes that premise a step further.

Paul (Paul Bartel) and Mary (Mary Woronov) are a prudish married couple who like to maintain high moral values and a sense of propriety. He’s a wine snob forced to work in a cheap wine shop whilst she’s a nurse who finds herself constantly the butt of unwanted male attention. They dream of opening a restaurant together. When a group of swingers move into their block, they’re initially outraged. However, they stumble upon a novel way to fulfil their ambitions.

As you’d probably expect, Eating Raoul is a riotous black comedy which is not afraid to offend. Bartel, who also takes the helm, brings the best elements from the underground cinema and pop art scenes and mixes it with a bawdy fun. Not everything lands but there are enough outrageous one-liners to keep you amused.  Eating Raoul takes no prisoners and revels in its brashness. 

Special edition features:

  • New, restored digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Gary Thieltges, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring screenwriter Richard Blackburn, art director Robert Schulenberg, and editor Alan Toomayan
  • The Secret Cinema (1968) and Naughty Nurse (1969), two short films by director Paul Bartel
  • Cooking Up “Raoul,” a new documentary about the making of the film, featuring interviews with stars Mary Woronov, Robert Beltran, and Edie McClurg
  • Gag reel of outtakes from the film
  • Archival interview with Bartel and Woronov
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Ehrenstein

Eating Raoul is released on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection on 21 October.  

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