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Don Juan (or if Don Juan were a woman)

In 1973, notorious French director and provocateur Roger Vadim said "The Don Juan of our day is a woman — Brigitte Bardot in real life." Vadim was addressing his past muse (indeed the very reason he became famous) as the ultimate feminist of the last 20 years. Vadim made Bardot a woman/child in the explosive ...and God Created Woman (1956), and 16 years later he made her a woman/man in Don Juan (or if Don Juan were a woman). Was he successful? Yes — but only because Bardot, the woman and star, was actually at the helm. Shot with unremarkable, almost softcore sensibilities, Don Juan follows Jeanne (Bardot) on a series of sexual conquests as she relays them to her cousin/priest Paul (Mathieu Carriere). She coolly discusses her dalliances, first with Pierre (Maurice Ronet), a married, influential government man. When she gleefully watches a photographer snap his picture at a drunken student orgy (it's all so very '70s), his personal and professional life is ruined. Next is the humiliation of the boorish Prevost (Robert Hossein), married to the young, vulnerable Clara (Jane Birkin). She gets him through Clara, enticing the girl to bed, setting it up so Prevost finds them only to reject his gluttonous desire to join them. A woman whom Simon de Beauvoir claimed could tempt a saint, it's not surprising that Bardot, and not Vadim's content or direction, makes Don Juan an interesting picture. A summation of how feminist (in the better sense of the word) Bardot really was, the film is intriguing when viewed as her bawdy last gasp before cinematic retirement. Some critics complained that Bardot appeared bored and uninspired in Don Juan, and amidst Vadim's vapid landscape, who could blame her? Nevertheless, she's still beautiful in this conclusion to Bardotlatry. As Vadim noted, "It was probably her last chance to keep making movies because she'd grown too old to continue playing Brigitte Bardot. But she understood that too. That's why she stopped making movies." Home Vision Entertainment's DVD release features a clear anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with improved French audio in Dolby 2.0 stereo and digital English subtitles. Supplements include theatrical trailers for three Bardot films. Keep-case.
—Kim Morgan

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