Bitter Moon

March 11th, 1994


Bitter Moon

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Still of Hugh Grant in Bitter MoonStill of Kristin Scott Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner in Bitter MoonStill of Peter Coyote and Emmanuelle Seigner in Bitter MoonStill of Peter Coyote in Bitter MoonStill of Kristin Scott Thomas and Hugh Grant in Bitter MoonStill of Hugh Grant in Bitter Moon

British couple Fiona and Nigel Dobson are sailing to Istanbul en route to India. They encounter a beautiful French woman...

Release Year: 1992

Rating: 6.9/10 (13,651 voted)

Director: Roman Polanski

Stars: Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emmanuelle Seigner

British couple Fiona and Nigel Dobson are sailing to Istanbul en route to India. They encounter a beautiful French woman, and that night Nigel meets her while dancing alone in the ship's bar. Later he meets her crippled American husband Oscar, who tells him their story. While living in Paris for several years trying to be a writer, he becomes obsessed with a woman he met by chance on a bus. He tracks her down and they start a steamy love affair. Soon Oscar finds himself enslaved body and soul by her love, and continues to tell Nigel the details of this relationship in various stages over a number of visits to Oscar's cabin.

Writers: Roman Polanski, Gérard Brach

Peter Coyote - Oscar
Emmanuelle Seigner - Mimi
Hugh Grant - Nigel
Kristin Scott Thomas - Fiona
Victor Banerjee - Mr. Singh
Sophie Patel - Amrita Singh
Patrick Albenque - Steward
Smilja Mihailovitch - Bridge Player
Leo Eckmann - Bridge Player
Luca Vellani - Dado
Richard Dieux - Partygoer
Danny Wuyts - Bandleader (as Danny Garcy)
Daniel Dhubert - Bus Inspector
Nathalie Galán - Girl in Boutique (as Nathalie Galan)
Eric Gonzales - Cook

Release Date: 11 March 1994

Filming Locations: Paris Studios Cinéma, Billancourt, Hauts-de-Seine, France

Box Office Details

Budget: $5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross: $4,000,000 (France) (1992)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Argentina:

Did You Know?

The movie is based upon Pascal Bruckner's 1981 novel "Lune de fiel" - a pun on "Lune de miel", the French word for "honeymoon". "Lune de fiel" literally means "poison moon".

Continuity: In the scene when Mimi cuts her hair for the first time and bakes a Turkey for Oscar, he is wearing the same turtle necked blue sweater that was ripped off with a razor blade during a previous sex game.

Nigel: Are you feeling any better?
Mimi: Better than what?
Nigel: You know, this afternoon... in the loo?
Mimi: The loo? Is that your usual pick-up routine?

User Review

Consuming Passions


Roman Polanski again explores the depths of the human psyche in Bitter Moon, a magnificent epic tale of obsessive lust and the oh-so-familiar winding course of a passionate romance gone sour.

Bitter Moon centers around a familiar Polanski theme, that we are capable of being both torturer and victim, and usually both simultaneously. For anyone who doubts the validity of much of the past century of French intellectual thought, from the likes of Andre Gide, Foucault, and others, see this movie. For anyone who has been in a painful twisted relationship, see this movie. You will understand it. Some of it might be hard to stomach but that is the nature of truly great filmmaking.

A beautifully crafted movie, almost lyrical at times, Bitter moon is set in contemporary Paris but is told in a series of long complex flashbacks superbly narrated by Oscar (a terrific Peter Coyote) to Nigel (Hugh Grant as the usual British prat), both passengers on a cruise ship to India. Nigel and his wife Fiona, played by Kirsten Scott-Thomas, are on a holiday to enliven a stable but stale marriage. The couples become embroiled through the lurid tale of Oscar and Mimi's (Emmanuelle Seigner) love affair. Emmanuelle, Polanski's real-life wife, is superb and her incredible performance takes her from sumptuous beauty to complete wreck, a performance that deserves far more praise than was received. The lack of attention to her performance in this movie is no doubt due to the notoriety in the puritanical American press of her husband.

As a whole, Bitter Moon may not be Polanski's best film but some periods of the movie represent his very best work. Throughout, limits are pushed to the brink of tastelessness but Polanski masterfully pulls back just in time. The direction is complex and highly sophisticated and the movie arouses a range of emotions from dread to empathy to disgust to hilarity. The story line is far too complicated to synopsize appropriately in this review. Bitter moon is a great film, one of this reviewer's top 10 for the 1990s. Another must see! A word of caution, however, Bitter Moon is not a good date movie.


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