Synopsis: A young heiress tries to help a young man who has attempted suicide by having an affair with him, ignoring pleas of her fiancée and friends. After two separations he proposes marriage.
Le repos du guerrier 7.75
What I dislike about dramas is how dry they can get. After a hard and/or boring day at work, the last thing I want is to have another slice of “real” life served to me: I’ve had my fill already and am ready for a little dessert, something to tease my taste buds. And, thus, I rarely reach out for purely dramatic films instinctively.
But I was tricked by this one: I thought that it was a romantic comedy, hopefully more along the lines of ‘Voulez-vous dancer avec moi?’ It certainly isn’t the case: this is pure drama. However, there were a number of elements that caught my eye right from the beginning and added to the experience tremendously.
For one, I absolutely adored Bardot’s character – especially in the beginning, when she was firm, organized, smart, business-savvy, and resolute. She played a strong, self-assured woman that one rarely saw then or now: she isn’t played for laughs, isn’t the “villain” of the piece or the loser. She’s playing the female equivalent of many standard male roles.
It wouldn’t have been out of place for Katherine Hepburn, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Bardot give this a try. She was actually solid in this, and shone best when she played her character’s strengths instead of her weaknesses (which showed up as she got more and more entangled in her new romance). And yet, even then, she gave us a woman with unexpected self-doubt and imbued her with intelligence and self-reflection.
The middle section of the film focuses more on the blooming romance. A part of it reminded me of ‘Ai no corrida” (but completely sanitized, of course! ): it was all about the couple lingering in a state of love/passion and letting the days slide by. I really love moments like those -when done properly- because it perfectly translates the all-encompassing power of passion at its brightest.
The last part is where I got a bit less interested. It was fairly bland, and by then the tension between the two leads was less believable to me. I saw what they were going for, understood it intellectually, but I didn’t feel it whatsoever. And, in drama, that’s a serious problem – it all relies on the actors and the believability of their roles. Sadly, I wasn’t engaged one bit then.
‘Le repos du guerrier’ was not only appealing for Bardot’s character, but it also features some fairly creative cinematography. Vadim must have had a fixation with mirrors at that point in his life, because there are tons of mirror shots (i.e. characters seen in mirror reflections instead of cutting to them) and plenty of artsy close-ups. I quite liked the style, even if some might find this overdone, perhaps even pretentious. On the flip-side, the editing was sometimes poor, but I thought that it could be forgiven.
It’s not that I hate dramatic films; it’s simply that I’m not drawn to them. When I see a good one, I’m always pleased. When I see a great one, I’m thrilled. But it’s rare that I’ll return to them unless there’s some magical quality to them (ex: ‘Bin-jip’ or ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ ).
I’m quite pleased that I saw ‘Le repos du guerrier’; it’s one of the good ones, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. But I highly doubt that I’ll see it again soon; I think I’ll give this one a rest until my next Bardot binge. Someday.