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,
wicked turn as the famous lover's female reincarnation makes the film
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
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.
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.
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.
Trailers for other Bardot films like Plucking the
Daisy and The Night Heaven
Fell, but not Don Juan.
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:
The Night Heaven