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DVD Review: ‘Love on a Pillow’

★★☆☆☆

Roger Vadim’s 1962 film Love on a Pillow sees Bridgit Bardot as the kind and caring Geneviève Le Theil, a well to-do girl from an upper-class family. After leaving Paris and arriving in Dijon to settle her inheritance, Geneviève meets a young man, Renaud Sarti (Robert Hossein), who attempts to commit suicide in her hotel room. Despite warnings from her mother and his own friends, Geneviève falls for Renaud and the pair set out on a journey of self-destruction.

The rerelease of Vadim’s drama is somewhat deflating, as it doesn’t manage to engage the viewer at anywhere near the same level as some of its more successful, modern day French counterparts. It also fails to represent the prowess of the country’s national cinema during the 1960s: an era that saw the likes of François Truffaut producing classic film such as The 400 Blows (1959) and Farenheit 451 (1966).

51 years after the original release of Love on a Pillow, here it is again, re-distributed to French cinephiles courtesy of StudioCanal. The film’s continued appeal has to be attributed – at least in part – to the presence of the beautiful Bardot as the films’ protagonist Geneviève. In addition, a simplistic style of shooting (for the period time) is utilised to help reaffirm the emotions conveyed by the characters and the overall atmosphere of the film, with simple close tracking and panning shots creating a sense of closeness and claustrophobia as the relationship at the centre of the story becomes evermore smothering.

Regardless, Love on a Pillow leaves much to be desired, with a degree of unnecessary narrative ambiguity throughout. Such failings of the film may be of little consequence to cineastes with a penchant for French cinema, but taking into consideration the vast swathe of gifted and innovative filmmakers produced by France over the years, Vadim’s Love on a Pillow certainly doesn’t stand up as a truly notable entry.

Russell Cook