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  Love On a Pillow Existential PotentialBuy this film here.
Year: 1962
Director: Roger Vadim
Stars: Brigitte Bardot, Robert Hossein, Jean-Marc Bory, Michel Serrault, Jacqueline Porel, James Robertson Justice, Jean-Marc Tennberg, Robert Dalban, Ursula Kubler, Christian Melsen, Macha Méril
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Geneviève Le Theil (Brigitte Bardot) is a wealthy middle class woman living on her now late father's fortune and still staying in the house she shared with him, much to her mother's displeasure since they were divorced and she wants as few ties between her daughter and her ex-husband as possible. But Geneviève has to go to a small town in the country to see about the inheritance, so after kissing her boyfriend goodbye at the station, off she goes, little knowing she will meet someone there who will change her life. On arrival at the hotel, you see, she enters the wrong room...

And being a decent hearted sort when she sees a man lying there on the bed having taken an overdose of pills, she calls the concierge and he calls the police. She could have walked away at that moment, but to her folly she chooses to visit the man in hospital, where according to the nurse he has been asking and waiting for her. The man is Renaud (Robert Hossein), he's an existentialist, and he will be with her for a very long time if he has his way. Except there are times when it looks as if he would rather be as far away from Geneviève as possible, and it's this philosphically charged running hot and cold with the woman that fuelled the plotline.

This was one of Bardot's collaborations with her by then ex-husband Roger Vadim, a director whose reputation rested solely on the pulchritude of the actresses he not only got to star in his films, but got to romance as well. Certainly with Brigitte countless men across the globe envied his good fortune, but as we now know being one of the most famous women in the world was no picnic for her, and she was a difficult person to get on with as a result. Not that you'd know it from the largely decorative roles she played onscreen, as even the parts with some amount of depth were viewed as nothing short of a delivery system for BB's own form of Gallic eye candy - if nothing else Vadim was guaranteed to have his movies look very attractive.

You didn't get many of her fans celebrating her thespian talent when they could simply look at her and not pay attention to what she was saying, so perhaps it's fitting she's best recalled as far as her screen career went for being a pinup. But if you watch something like Love On a Pillow, or Le repos du guerrier as it was originally known (meaning The Warrior's Rest), it's possible to see a style there which could have been cultivated into a decent performance in the right hands: not for nothing did Jean-Luc Godard want to work with her, and made her look accomplished when he did. In this case, the urge to see her persona punished instead of flattered was well to the fore, as often happens to star actresses best known for their beauty.

Which left questions about the motivation of the filmmakers, never mind the audiences, but it did offer the women in question the illusion of being more worthwhile in their dramatic roles when comedy was just as tricky to pull off, never mind romance. This was a romance which apparently was designed to make you think either no good deed goes unpunished, or some people don't deserve to be saved from their suicide attempts as all Renaud does is mess with Geneviève's head as she falls for him and allows him to take over her life. This has her old friends excluded and a bunch of Renaud's pals make their entrance, including somewhat bizarrely James Robertson Justice as an artist in metalwork who in his dubbed into French form swore his head off at every opportunity, not what he'd do in his British films. Anyway, as our heroine suffers prettily because of Renaud leeching off her financially as well as mentally you might expect some kind of revelation for her, or for us, but all we got was an unsatisfying statement of out of character, unabashed romanticism for the finale. Music by Michel Magne.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Roger Vadim  (1928 - 2000)

French writer-director who had a habit of romancing his leading ladies. And God Created Woman, his debut, created a sensation and made a superstar of Brigitte Bardot. His other films include Blood and Roses, Barbarella (featuring then-wife Jane Fonda), the first part of Spirits of the Dead, the Hollywood excursion Pretty Maids All in a Row and Night Games.

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