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  Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman ...And Vadim Destroyed Bardot
Year: 1973
Director: Roger Vadim
Stars: Brigitte Bardot, Robert Hossein, Mathieu Carrière, Michèle Sand, Robert Walker Jr, Jane Birkin, Maurice Ronet, Lena Grinda, Sylvie Reichenbach, Laurent Vergez, Robert Favart
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: There's a funeral being held and all the mourners are women of various ages. One woman attending is not there to mourn, however, she's Jeanne (Brigitte Bardot) and she's here to see the priest leading the service, Paul (Mathieu Carrière), who she has known since childhood. As the mourners file out of the church, Jeanne approaches him, but he's not too keen to see her; however, she has a confession to make and means to tell it to him whether he wants to listen to it or not. She has, she says, killed a man, and later, in her home underneath the river, he accepts her invitation and goes over that night to hear what she has to say, and three tales unfold of how she has seduced her way through life - but at what cost?

Aside from a cameo appearance in another film the same year, Don Juan, or to give the film its French title Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une Femme..., was Brigitte Bardot's last film. In the roughly twenty years that she had been making movies, she had become a world famous icon for female sexuality in cinema, and it could be argued in those two decades she had rarely made a film of a particularly classic quality. Sadly, her final effort wasn't much good either, an attempt to have Bardot live up to the image that had been created for her and that had in real life driven her to distraction.

And so she returned to work with Roger Vadim, director of And God Created Woman which had made her one of the most celebrated women in the world back in the nineteen-fifties. He had co-written the script with Jean Cau and Jean-Pierre Petrolacci and it's an episodic trudge through its main character's life, or at least, three of her many affairs. She's has used sex to get everything she wanted from life, twisting men around her little finger with ease, and what do you know? She remains unsatisfied and feeling a little empty inside, contemptuous of the men who bend to her will so readily.

The first tale Jeanne spins for Paul is of her affair with a powerful magistrate, Pierre (Maurice Ronet); when she sees what a comfortable, even complacent, life he leads, she determines to put her own stamp on it by seducing him. He manages to keep the affair secret until they go off for a holiday on an island in Sweden, and they end up at a party. A bit of plot foreshadowing sees Jeanne disguise herself in a death's head mask, and he loses sight of her, only to end up photographed with a half naked woman who has stumbled into his arms. The result? Scandal all over the newspapers. Yet Pierre isn't the man Jeanne claims to have killed.

The second tale is of Jeanne meeting, and taking an instant dislike to, a gangster, Louis (Robert Hossein), who has just married his latest wife, Clara (Jane Birkin). Jeanne's revenge takes place on the supposedly exotic cross channel ferry (!) where she seduces, not Louis, but Clara, to humiliate him. The third tale is of a guitarist, Robert Walker Jr, and this is the fellow she thinks she has killed, and which triggers her flood of remorse. Don Juan is determined to be both classy and jaded, so Jeanne's underwater home is decked out with fashionable furnishings, and an air of pretention hangs over the proceedings. But really it appears hypocritcal, revelling in Jeanne's vampishness while punishing her for the finale, so it seems that even in her swan song for the screen, Bardot got a raw deal. A camp appeal is all that remains. 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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