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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Life is a Bed of Roses
Directed by Alain Resnais
International Spectrafilm 1983 DVD/VHS Feature Film

Alain Resnais's Life is a Bed of Roses hops, skips and jumps in time and space while affirming the serendipity of life and the fluidity of the human imagination. Following World War I, Michel Forbek (Ruggero Raimondi), a wealthy utopian dreamer, invites a group of friends to his neo-Gothic castle for the purpose of being "born anew." While others follow orders, Livia (Fanny Ardant) sees through the charade and recognizes Forbek's mania for pushing people around.

Switch to 1983. The castle now houses a "progressive school," the new site of a conference among intellectuals and education reformers. Participating are a womanizing architect (Vittorio Gassman), an American anthropologist (Geraldine Chaplin), and a young teacher (Sabine Azema) who wants to find a husband.

During the conference — while the adults theorize, argue and bed-hop — several children at the school fantasize a tale about a Prince Valiant figure, replete with dragons and damsels in distress.

Similar to his last film collaboration with screenplay writer Jean Gruault (Mon Oncle d'Amerique), Resnais raises more questions than he answers in this fascinating three-section parable about utopianism, education and love. Life is a Bed of Roses is a lark combining elements of fantasy, medieval and drama, operatic melodrama, comedy and romance.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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