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Film / Get Out Your Handkerchiefs

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Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Préparez vos mouchoirs) is a 1978 film from France directed by Bertrand Blier.

Raoul (Gérard Depardieu) and his wife Solange have a troubled marriage. Specifically, Solange seems to be stuck in some sort of depression that leaves her acting listless with a permanent Thousand-Yard Stare. At his wit's end, Raoul comes up with an odd idea: his wife needs a new lover. On the spur of the moment he approaches Stéphane (Patrick Dewaere), another customer in the restaurant they're eating at, who has been giving Solange the eye. Stéphane is willing, but the general weirdness of Raoul and Solange (when Solange isn't staring listlessly, she's usually fainting) leads him to beat a retreat.

Raoul won't take no for an answer, so he and Solange travel quite a long ways, to the south of France, where Stéphane lives. Soon enough Stéphane is regularly having sex with Raoul's wife. Soon after that they become a threesome, with the two men taking turns having sex with Solange.

The trio finds work as instructors at a summer camp for boys. Things take a turn when they intervene to help Christian, a genius-IQ thirteen-year-old boy who has been relentlessly bullied by the others. Christian gets interested in attractive Solange—and despite the fact that she's more than twice his age she gets interested in him.


  • Adult Child: Christian, with his genius IQ and his unsettlingly un-childlike manner. He seduces Solange who is more than twice his age. At the end he's basically supplanted his father as the man of the house, with Solange as his live-in lover.
  • Art Imitates Art: The last scene where Raoul and Stéphane are looking through the wrought-iron fence, at happy Solange inside the mansion, is a lift from 1937 weepy melodrama Stella Dallas.
  • Corruption by a Minor: Solange wakes up to find Christian, who has been sleeping in the bed with her, lifting up her dress and moving her legs so he can look at her crotch. At first she's about to throw him out of the room, but he gets emotional. He starts talking about how he has needs, and there's nothing wrong with it, and he just wants to play "you show me yours and I'll show you mine" with Solange in a safe environment. Amazingly, this works, and they become lovers.
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: The boys are served cottage cheese for dinner. Some of them dump it on Christian. He then pulls out his chair, sits away from the cafeteria tables, sits on it in an edgy, backward, and confrontational way, and says that all of them should have a shot. They take him up on it and he is covered in cottage cheese.
  • The Eeyore: Solange does nothing but sit around and looked bored and depressed (while also knitting, she does a lot of knitting). Raoul can't figure out what is wrong with her; he attributes it to her struggling to get pregnant, but Solange herself never expresses a desire to have a baby.
  • Fanservice Solange gets naked several times, but the bored, vacant expression that is her permanent face makes it somewhat less fanservice-y.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The other kids at the summer camp relentlessly bully Christian. Granted, he sort of brings it on himself, being a rather creepy Adult Child who brags about his IQ and states baldly that he is at the camp because he, a rich boy, is supposed to be learning about his social inferiors. Still, the kids are going way too far by the point that they're ripping his pants off in bed and screaming "Polish on his dick!"
  • In Medias Res: The film wastes no time introducing characters, but instead hits the ground running with Raoul, in a restaurant, complaining about how Solange is so listless and glum-faced all the time.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Stéphane complains that knowing Raoul is waiting in a downstairs bar makes him unable to get an erection. He soon gets over it.
  • Mrs. Robinson: A very inappropriate version of this trope, as a woman who appears to be in her late twenties allows a 13-year-old boy to seduce her, and in fact becomes his lover.
  • Must Make Her Laugh: Raoul takes the radical measure of getting Solange a lover as a means of pulling her out of depression. It doesn't really work, until she begins another, very wrong relationship.
    Raoul: We've been trying to make her smile for weeks.
  • Polyamory: Raoul deliberately brings another man into his marriage. They become a threesome with the men taking turns.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Christian brags that he has an IQ of 158, and the point is underlined with a shot of him fiddling with a position on a chessboard.
  • Title Drop: Sort of; when Solange is breaking down into weepy sobs Stéphane says "what have I done with my handkerchief?".
  • Would Hit a Girl: Raoul hauls off and slaps his wife after she has another fainting spell and gets hospitalized, and then refuses to come home.