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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were A Woman)
Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were A Woman)
Home Vision Entertainment // R // November 13, 2001
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted December 14, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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Brigitte Bardot embodied a certain kind of sexual energy in the 50's and 60's. While film norms were not as explicit as they are today, Bardot managed to convey an enticing sensuality that made even her crummy movies watchable. By the time she was getting ready to retire, however, the movies that she found herself in were getting more convoluted and less grounded in real emotion. 1973's Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were A Woman) comes dangerously close to self-parody. It turned out to be Bardot's final film (she retired ahead of the curve and today devotes herself to protesting animal cruelty around the world) and, while the script is a mess and the staging is overly self-conscious, her wicked turn as the famous lover's female reincarnation makes the film bearable.

Early on she strikes a naughty pose, enticing her priest / cousin to meet her at her home by confessing that she has killed someone. When he arrives at her Austin Powers-esque lovepad (at the bottom of a psychedelic submarine, no less) she begins to unravel a tale of how she hand picked several powerful men for slow, degrading destruction. Each tale, acted out in full, reiterates what a bad ass she is; She finds the man's weakness and slowly exploits it so that when it all comes down he is left with no idea what happened.

The problem with Don Juan is not in the concept: Dramatizing the gender war with Brigitte Bardot at the helm is not a bad idea. The execution, however, is pretty sad. Roger Vadim had directed over a dozen films by this point and, while none of them were Citizen Kane, he should have been past the Ed Wood aesthetic on display here. The dialog, the cinematography, the pacing, the costumes, they're all a tacky mess. There is so much posturing and preening in the film it looks like a spoof, sort Not Another French Sex Movie. Bardot works hard to keep the film watchable and she succeeds at times (her devilish smile says more about her ridiculous character than a hundred pages of vapid, pretentious dialog), but even her considerable charms and skills can't rescue the technically preposterous and thematically misogynistic finale.

VIDEO:
The anamorphic widescreen transfer is pretty good, although not as nice as the two previous Bardot movies released by Home Vision Entertainment. The colors are a little lackluster for such a visually oriented film. Still, it looks good.

AUDIO:
The French 2.0 audio is fine, if not necessarily exciting. The music mostly consists of one terrible song played over and over. Optional English subtitles are available.

EXTRAS:
Trailers for other Bardot films like Plucking the Daisy and The Night Heaven Fell, but not Don Juan.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
As I've stated before, just about anything with Brigitte Bardot in it is worth a look. She has a sensual energy and wit that is virtually without peer. Sadly, many of her movies came from subpar scripts and filmmakers.

Other Brigitte Bardot reviews:
Plucking the Daisy
The Night Heaven Fell

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