Today’s post includes a brief plot summary, an explanation about the ending of the film Bitter Moon (1992) and a relationship analysis between the two main characters: Oscar and Mimi. Why did Oscar shoot Mimi? Beware of spoilers.
Roman Polanski is the director and the film stars Emanuelle Seigner as Mimi and Peter Coyote as Oscar. The British couple is played by Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Bitter Moon – Plot Summary
Nigel and Fiona are a British couple on a cruise en route to India. At the ship, they meet a beautiful woman named Mimi and her disabled husband Oscar.
Oscar invites Nigel to his cabin and starts describing how he and Mimi met a bus in Paris and fell madly in love with each other. As the story unravels, Oscar discloses his and Mimi’s sexual explorations with bondage, sadomachism and voyerism.
Mimi invites Nigel to her cabin, which turn out to be prank that she and Oscar played on him. Before Nigel is about to leave, Oscar lures him with another story session. This time Oscar begins to describe how their love/hate relationship started. At the beginning, he tried to break up with Mimi, but she begged him to let her stay. As a result, he started to use Mimi for his own sadistic fantasies, which consisted in finding different ways to humiliate her. When he learns that Mimi was pregnant, he asked her to get an abortion. Oscar told Mimi that he wasn’t going to be a good father. After the surgery, he promised her a trip to the Caribbean. However, Oscar got off the plane just before take off, leaving Mimi alone.
While leaving Oscar’s cabin, Mimi and Nigel kiss. Then, he finds Fiona flirting with another man. She warns him not to stray to far, because she can do it better than him. Nigel goes to Oscar once again. This time, he learns how Oscar became crippled.
While heading home after a night out, Oscar stepped in front of the vehicle. However, he only suffer a couple of minor injuries and a fractured femur. To his surprise, Mimi came to visit him. When she was about to leave, she pulled him out of his bed. This was the injury that left him paraplegic. After this incident, Oscar had no option but to accept Mimi back, so she can take care of him. During this period, Mimi humiliated Oscar in every possible way. When Oscar wanted to kill himself, Mimi gave him a gun (as a birthday present). Despite of their highs and lows, Oscar and Mimi end up marrying each other.
Nigel tries to woo Mimi during the New Year’s Eve party. However, he fails miserably. Then Fiona arrives, she dances with Mimi flirtatiously and they both leave the party. Then, Nigel finds Fiona in Oscar’s cabin and he tells Nigel, the two had sex together. Angered, Nigel grabs Oscar’s throat but he points a gun at him. Nigel backs off, Oscar shoots Mimi in the head several times and then he kills himself. Fiona and Nigel reconcile and embrace each other.
Oscar and Mimi: Relationship Analysis
What drives a woman to love a man that constantly mistreats her? Mimi is a beautiful woman, she has options. So, why did she decide to stay with a piece of garbage like Oscar? Personally, I can’t find a logical answer, so I’m just going to assume that Mimi is a bit of a masochist. However, that answer is too easy.
So does Mimi likes pain? Mimi is an emotional person and she can’t get over Oscar. To fair, it’s hard to let go of “love”. Despite of how he treated her afterwards, they were once a couple passionately in love. Having said that, it’s hard to let go of that memory.
The first time she got back with him, it was a forced situation (on her side). She basically begged Oscar to let her back into his life. He did, only to torture her even more. The climax of this situation was the moment when Oscar left Mimi alone on the plane. Give this woman a break: she had an abortion (which left her infertile) and now her man is leaving her?
Why did Mimi come back after the accident?
So did Mimi deserve better? Of course. However, she also put herself in that situation. She gave too much power to Oscar and he used it to destroy her. Knowing the horrible person that Oscar is, why did she come back after the accident? Payback. Mimi wanted to get revenge for what Oscar did to her, so she crippled him.
In a very twisty way, Mimi wants Oscar to depend on her, she wants to feel needed. Therefore, him not being able to walk (ever again) is the perfect scenario to execute her revenge. By the way, she didn’t marry Oscar out of love. That was just another way to torture him. If she hates him so much, why doesn’t she kill him? That would be too easy, she wants him to suffer.
Did Oscar ever love Mimi?
Oscar is a very selfish man. I don’t think he knows what loving someone means. The idea of loving someone is a pretty concept in theory. However, I don’t think someone like Oscar knows how to do it.
When he first met Mimi, it wasn’t love at first sight. Lust is a more appropriate word and a more honest one. He was in love with the idea of having someone young and beautiful taking an interest on him. In addition, Mimi’s initial naivety was the main catalyst for Oscar’s attraction towards her.
As time went by, Oscar grew tired of Mimi. She hasn’t done anything in particular to upset him. She simply “existed” as he put it. When the honey moon phase was over, the “bitter moon” kicked in.
That’s how Oscar works, he will love you until things start to go sour. In other words, he will only love you at your best and will not accept you at your worst. That’s why he tried to break up (though unsuccessfully) with Mimi, he wanted leave while they both still have some dignity.
Bitter Moon – Ending Explained
Why did Oscar kill Mimi? Oscar and Mimi hit a dead end in their relationship (long time ago). However, none of the parties were willing to part ways. Actually, Oscar always wanted to be a free man, but Mimi wasn’t down with that. Therefore, killing Mimi and himself was the only way to end things.
When Mimi gave that gun to Oscar (on his birthday), she was almost foreshadowing the end of their relationship (death). Having said that, I believe they both knew how their story would end.
Mimi was tearing up during her last interaction with Oscar, almost as if she was saying goodbye to him. Maybe her murder wasn’t a crime of passion. Coming from these two, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that Mimi and Oscar planned their deaths.
Now, why would they want to involve Nigel and Fiona into their own mess? Perhaps, to teach them a lesson. Ironic, isn’t it? A messed-up couple trying to teach some ugly truths to a relatively normal couple. However, Oscar and Mimi know the consequences of playing dangerous games. Nigel and Fiona weren’t in a good place. Nigel was trying to sleep with Mimi and she ended up having an intimate evening with Fiona.
So did Fiona cheat on Nigel? What Fiona did to Nigel was a provocation, not cheating. I mean, he knew about it. It happened right in front of his eyes! In addition, who is he to blame Fiona, when himself was trying to get with Mimi? Nigel acted like a fool around her. He barely knew Mimi and was already confessing his love to her. Isn’t that pathetic? That’s why Oscar called him a loser. He knew Nigel wasn’t in love. Mimi was more a like fantasy to him.
Who is the bad guy in this story?
Oscar would be an obvious answer. However, is he really a bad guy? In my opinion, no. I don’t think Oscar is a bad person. He’s just a wannabe. He’s old but he still acts like a little kid when it comes to his personal and professional life.
Let’s talk about some facts. For instance, when Mimi begged Oscar to get back together, he didn’t have to accept her request. However, he did it to destroy her. So what’s the point? Sure Mimi is insistent, but she’ll eventually get the message. He did it, because he thought it was funny to have someone worship him the way Mimi did. Oscar is an egomaniac and he loves attention.
Now, is Mimi a bad person for treating Oscar poorly (after his accident)? She’s human. Though I’m not sure whether crippling Oscar was the best way to get her revenge, she has the right to feel hurt. At this point, Oscar is like poison inside of her system. She can’t get rid of it but also… she doesn’t want to.
There was no relationship after the first breakup, so whatever the two felt for each from that moment on is neither love or hate.
Oscar says he felt bad for asking Mimi to get an abortion, but that’s not true. The man was more than happy when he “got rid” of her. Oscar is just saying that to make him feel less guilty about his poor actions.
Bitter Moon is one of those films that you’ll either get it or not get it. The film is essentially a satire about marriages and not many films are that “raw” when it comes to exploring the depths of long-term relationships.
What I really liked about Bitter Moon was its ability to balance between dramatic and comedic moments. The story is pretty sad, especially the way how Oscar and Mimi end their relationship. However, the comedic moments in the film made it easier to watch. Otherwise, it would’ve been too boring and depressing.
The film is a comedic tale of love, lust and obsession that deserves to be discovered by those who haven’t watched it yet. In my opinion? An underrated classic.