This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Zola’s review published on Letterboxd :
This review may contain spoilers.
In this film by Roger Vadim Brigitte Bardot plays an eighteen-year old Juliette Hardy who is an orphan and makes the minds of men go upside down in a small French town. What we have here is a tale of a wanton young sensual and sexual woman who defies the then current moral norms and practises and of men who lose their minds trying to catch that wild creature and tame her, accordingly. What follows is the divine BB frolicking around in skin-licking outfits, passionate embraces and the old theme of men sticking together, nevermind the occasional arguing and fighting over this lovely woman-child.
Juliette is most of all natural. She seems to be blissfully unaware of the proper code of conduct for women in that time and place or then consciously defies those practises. She gets laughed at knowingly by men "oh you know, her kind is good for one night only and she enjoys it like that" and called a tramp and a slut by older women who are in outrage of this wild child's behavior. Here we have a classical example of a woman being sexually open and active and the labels the society plagues her with. Of course, it's the 1950's and for that time and place one could say that there is something pretty forward about the themes. Even if there was an intended "sexual liberation for women" agenda behind the film it falls to the events and the conventional ways of portraying male comradeship and ends up in fact belittling female sexuality to a degree.
The drama is meant to be erotic. Bardot's pointy boobs and "a divine ass" steal the show and this film got her the reputation of a sex kitten to be fantasized about and to be objectified. I won't go to the plot in detail since it's kind of cliched but some scenes stuck to my mind. In one Juliette is on a beach, almost one with the water, rising to the shore as Botticelli's Venus. The feeling of God creating woman out of the mystic, from the sea, comes to my mind. Men are rational, doing work, feet on the earth and women, like Juliette, are these flickering beautiful wild beings who need the protection and guidance of the man. The sea must be tamed, conquered and claimed.
Entertaining and visually bright, the film was partly delightful but partly somewhat awkward to watch regarding the moralism and double standards. What is supposed to be "sexual freedom for women" comes to be "sexual freedom for women until they have to settle down". Interesting, thematically and I'm intrigued to watch more of Bardot's films.