"Enigmatic" is a good way of describing Roger Vadim's, Le Repos Du Guerrier which charts the complicated love-life of high-class Parisian woman Brigitte Bardot. Vadim was responsible for raising the profile of Bardot's career back in the '50s with the film
And God Created Woman, as well as being married to her for five years between 1952 and 1957. Le Repos Du Guerrier appeared five years after their divorce
many will find it weird that an ex-couple continued to work together in this way, sometimes on quite sexualised films, but the fact is they collaborated on a significant number of movies after their split.
Pedantic middle-class Parisian Genevieve Le Theil (Bardot) lives in her late father's elegant apartment, leading a comfortable but empty existence. Her mother (Jacqueline Porel) still grumbles bitterly about her deceased husband's infidelity, but Genevieve seems to care little about her father's reputation as an adulterer. In fact, she seems underwhelmed by just about every aspect of her life, including her relationship with well-to-do businessman Pierre (Jean Marc Bory). Genevieve is summoned to the provincial town of Dijon to receive a sizable inheritance. She says she will use the money to "open up a business
keep me busy, doing something I enjoy". However, during her stay in Dijon she inadvertently comes across a comatose man who has recently attempted to commit suicide. She manages to get help in time to save his life. Soon, Genevieve can't stop thinking about the coincidental chain of events that led her to discover the man before it was too late. She becomes obsessed with the notion that fate united them for a purpose, and decides to visit him in hospital. His name is Renaud Sarti (Robert Hossein), and it isn't long before he works his way into Genevieve's mind with his forthright charm and confident swagger. Before she knows it, she is involved in a whirlwind romance with Renaud, leaving behind her previously well-organised lifestyle in favour of the bohemian hedonism to which he has introduced her. Her mother is appalled, Pierre is heartbroken, and even Renaud's fatherly friend Katov (James Robertson Justice) warns that the relationship is likely to self-destruct. Renaud's extraordinary appetite for indulgence of every kind (drinking, smoking, pulp fiction, jazz, whores) threatens to engulf him
and Genevieve with him.
The film is beautifully shot and blessed with engaging performances. Bardot is allowed the rare opportunity here to act rather than being just a pouty European sex symbol
this is a real role, nuanced and challenging, and she proves she has some talent with a performance that is both deep and believable. Hossein is terrific as the self-indulgent Renaud, managing the difficult trick of being alluring and abhorrent at the same time. Where Le Repos Du Guerrier comes undone somewhat is in the writing. It's hard to like any of the main characters
to spend 98 minutes in the company of someone as arrogant, indulgent and nihilistic as Renaud, or as excessively analytical and fanciful as Genevieve, ends up being a rather exasperating experience. Yes, their performances are first-rate, but the characters they play often cry out for a good slap across the face. Le Repos Du Guerrier is a good film but not one that many viewers will want to watch again. It is worth seeing for its striking photography and excellent performances, but the film's conclusion - that ending up in a destructive romance is better than no romance at all - is ultimately rather depressing.