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MOVIE REVIEW : Remake of 'And God Created Woman' Is No Improvement

March 04, 1988|SHEILA BENSON | Times Film Critic

Roger Vadim create a film as lobotomized, as creakily out-of-date, as--God forbid--boring as his remake "And God Created Woman"?

Impossible. This is the movie maker who uncorseted our notions of sexuality forever back in the very dark days of 1957, who showed us in the original "And God Created Woman" the sheer pleasurable fun of sex. For that alone, for the unabashed splendor of Brigitte Bardot, for the sweet and silly erotic innocence of "Barbarella" or the poker-faced sensuality of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," we owe Vadim a great deal. ("And God Created Women" is at selected theaters.)

But nothing in any of Vadim's previous work explains a film as deeply silly, as tedious or as amateurish-sounding as "And God Created Woman." It's also something of a shock, after "Risky Business," to find the lovely Rebecca DeMornay so taut, so constricted.

To rework a 31-year-old story which wasn't even believeable back then, screenwriter R.J. Stewart bravely jettisoned the idea that our heroine get married to save herself from being sent back to an orphanage. No, this time she gets married so she can get out of jail.

Vincent Spano is the lucky stranger, a divorced carpenter with a young son, inveigled into the arrangement by her promise of $5,000, and possibly by the fact that their cataclysmic first meeting was behind the bleachers in the prison gym. Before we know it, she's out on parole, and her troubles begin.

This time, Vadim is fighting the battle of the Modern Woman, who is gol' darned if she'll do demeaning things like cook, clean, pick up the kid from nursery school or sleep with her husband!

Talent or no talent, what she wants is a rock 'n' roll band and a chance at the big time. And the chance to behave like a teasing 1950s sex kitten.

Every Vadim story needs a twinkly older man to lurk on the sidelines and threaten mature trouble. This one is Frank Langella, playing "the next governor of New Mexico," who is a little too personally involved with his parolee-protege.

That's the cast, and if the story sounds even vaguely coherent, or if you somehow assume that the characters behave like real people, not like flights of Xavier Hollander's imagination, then I have done the film a grave disservice. And although it goes through all the motions--simulated sex scenes, close-ups of rotating tushies, soapy shower shots--"And God Created Woman" is pretty old whoopee, about as spontaneous as a tour through the Playboy Mansion, and as joyful. (It got its R-rating the old-fashioned way, for nudity, language and sex.)

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