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A VERY PRIVATE AFFAIR (VIE PRIVEE) (director/writer: Louis Malle; screenwriter: Jean-Paul Rappeneau/Jean Ferry; cinematographer: Henri Decae; editor: Kenout Peltier; music: Fiorenzo Carpi; cast: Brigitte Bardot (Jill), Marcello Mastroianni (Fabio), Gregoire Von Rezzori (Gricha), Eleanora Hirt (Cecile), Ursula Kubler (Carla), Dirk Sanders (Dick), Paul Soreze (Maxime), Jacqueline Doyen (Juliette), Antoine Roblot (Alain), Nicolas Bataille (Edmond), Jean-Claude Brialy (Narrator); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Christine Gouze-Renal/Jacques Bar; MGM; 1962-Italy/France-dubbed in English)
“Unsatisfactory shallow romantic drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Louis Malle (“Pretty Baby”/”Atlantic City”/”Alamo Bay”)directs this unsatisfactory shallow romantic drama, which was not helped by no screen chemistry between loversBrigitte Bardot and Marcello Mastroianni. It’s co-written by Malle,Jean-Paul Rappeneauand Jean Ferry. The soap opera story about an unhappy spoiled movie staris unaffecting and artificial. It might be Malle’s worst film.

The 18-year-old Jill (Brigitte Bardot) lives with her ballet dancer mom Carla (Ursula Kubler) on her luxurious Lake Geneva estate. Jill dates young ballet dancer Dick (Dirk Sanders), someone she doesn’t love but becomes upset when he leaves for Paris.Mom is seeing Fabio (Marcello Mastroianni ), a successful publisher of art books and theater magazines. The bored Jill goes with Dick to Paris but soon becomes bored with him and dancing, and becomes a model to earn some money rather returning home a failure. From there Jill gets a break to act, and within three years becomes an international superstar as a sex symbol. Known for dumping her many lovers and weary of her unrelenting press coverage, she chucks her career and dons a black wig to return in secret to her home in Geneva. Evidently she doesn’t communicate with mom, who split for Rome to work in a dance company after breaking up with Fabio. Jill sees the much older Fabio in his plant, and they fall in love. She follows him to Spoleto, where he’s producing a play for the arts festival. The reclusive actress when recognized there by the hordes of photographers panics and never leaves her room. Her psychological need to be left alone turns tragic when a photographer takes a a flash-bulb picture of her while she’s on the roof of the hotel.

Malle uncovers nothing worthwhile in this melodrama that has any significant meaning; it’s a film that any hack could have directed. It was also not possible to believe in Bardot’s hapless vic character, as she gives one of her poorest and most strained performance.Mastroianni is one of those fortunate thesps, who could get by just eating spaghetti and somehow the bad dialogue he dishes out only seems very Italian.

At least the Swiss and Italian countrysides make for good viewing.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”