Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were a Woman) (Roger Vadim, 1973)

For her last film, Brigitte Bardot again teamed up with the man who made her famous, Roger Vadim, who directed her in ...And God Created Woman. That film was a brightly colored story of a married woman who acts out sexually in the idyllic St. Tropez. Don Juan couldn't be further from their first film, and couldn't be more of a fitting vehicle for Bardot's last film. There are so many layers of meaning in this film; audiences at the time would probably have had God in mind, as well as Bardot's reputation as a sexpot in real life and on the screen and Bardot and Vadim's real life failed marriage. That's a lot of subtext! But I didn't really think about much of these before seeing the film, but I still thoroughly enjoyed Don Juan as a campy, colorful, erotic piece of film history.

Bardot plays Jeanne, a man-eater who is growing tired of her lifestyle. She recounts to her priest cousin the stories of several men whose lives she has ruined, including one who killed himself after their encounter. There's really no more to the plot than that, as Bardot is deliciously amoral as a woman who deliberately ruins two men's lives, but feels surprisingly guilty about the suicide victim. One story deals with a man whose wife and child left him after finding out about his affair with Jeanne, and he plays a pivotal role in the (heavy-handed) finale. Another story is about a man who is so cruel to his wife (played by Jane Birkin!) that Jeanne seduces the wife to teach him a lesson. These highly erotic scenes with Brigitte and Jane, including them naked in bed together, are the highlight of the film. It was wonderful to see Serge Gainsbourg's two main ladies getting cozy. Most of the film is very sexy and erotic in that 1970s way, meaning not dirty and not particularly explicit.

The ending is done rather heavy-handedly, and seems out of place in the movie, but it can either be taken literally (Bardot pays for her sins, rather misogynistically), or Vadim and/or Bardot kissing off Bardot's screen career with a deadly finale. I prefer to interpret it the second way, as the film then seems like a kiss-off to Bardot's sex-kitten image, rather than an almost Biblical punishment. I definitely recommend this for fans of 1970s softcore, Brigitte Bardot, or those who might just want to check out the super surreal settings (Jeanne lives in an ultra-mod submarine!).


RIYL: Radley Metzger, ...And God Created Woman

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