A 1962 picture from France, Love on a Pillow is about self-destruction in the blood, and the far-reaching effect of erotic love. Genevieve (Brigitte Bardot) discovers a man who is attempting suicide and saves his life, later joining him in an amatory relationship. About this man, Renaud (Robert Hossein), it may be said, “Once a wreck, always a wreck.” He is a louse too, but Genevieve, a weak, complicated beauty, cannot leave him.
Sometimes rather dreary, the film is also sensual, usually smart, and imaginatively directed by Roger Vadim. For example, Genevieve and Renaud are arguing with each other as they approach their car, but since the camera is trained on the outside of the car, once the couple get in, the continued argument can no longer be heard. The audio is lifted.
The movie’s ending is bad—overblown—but the acting isn’t. Bardot does well enough, although her coldness is okay only up to a point. She needs to give us what someone like Monica Vitti does. Hossein, on the other hand, offers some depth and sophistication. So does Love on a Pillow (a.k.a. Le repos du guerrier), adapted from a novel by Christiane Rochefort. I’m glad it exists.