"Waiting for Godot" meets the New York Post in the seven-year-old black comedy "Buffet Froid," a nightmare of high-rise angst and urban paranoia from writer-director Bernard Blier. He draws out a tedious full-length feature from the opening dialogue, a 15-minute scene between a murderer and his victim that would serve well as a short piece for the stage. The rest is self-indulgence.
Blier wrestles -- and wrestles and wrestles -- with alienation in the concrete jungles and the crime these cold woods breed. The French liked it enough back in 1980 to award him a Ce'sar for his surrealistic screenplay with its killer protagonists. The plot is ponderous, but at least the movie looks good -- postmod chic with neon chill against a cruel, empty cityscape. However, nihilistic vogue has faded, gone with the punks and their safety pin earrings.
Gerard Depardieu, France's answer to Michael Caine, heads "Buffet's" experienced cast, playing an unemployed drifter obsessed with murder and death. Lonely, he harries a late-night subway rider who turns up later with Depardieu's knife in his stomach. And the fun begins. The hulking star is paired with Jean Carmet as a scaredy-cat woman-killer and the director's father, Bernard Blier, as a bored police inspector.
Depardieu befriends the sweetly psychotic Carmet when Carmet comes out of nowhere to apologize for killing Depardieu's wife. Blier suddenly moves in upstairs, the only other resident in an eerie, skyscraping condominium. The three become drinking and murdering buddies over the course of this oddball psychological adventure in condo hell.
Buffet Froid, at the Key, is unrated but contains adult material. It is in French with subtitles.