Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jeanne Moreau, Brigitte Bardot, George Hamilton, Paulette Dubost, Claudio Brook, Carlos López Moctezuma, Poldo Bendandi, Gregor von Rezzori, Francisco Reiguera, Jonathan Eden, Roberto Pedret, José Ángel Espinosa
Written by: Louis Malle, Jean-Claude Carrière
Directed by: Louis Malle
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 119
Date: 12/18/1965

Viva Maria! (1965)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Lovers and Fighters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It sounds great. Louis Malle directing a comedy-Western, written by the great Jean-Claude Carrière (Bunuel's collaborator), and starring two of the great beauties of French arthouse cinema. But Viva Maria! is actually rather forced and slow, perhaps not knowing how to get started or what to do once all these talents were assembled. Brigitte Bardot (at her most gorgeous) plays Maria, the daughter of revolutionary, growing up learning how to set explosives and blow up bridges. When her father is killed, she winds up with a traveling carnival, in the company of another Maria (Jeanne Moreau). Together, while performing onstage, they accidentally invent the striptease. Moreau's Maria meets a revolutionary (George Hamilton) and when he's killed, she picks up where he left off, leading a revolution. Of course, Bardot's Maria and her incendiary skills come in handy. The movie is colorful and runs through a mind-blowing array of different images and settings, but it just never comes together. The wry joke at the movie's center becomes broad slapstick.

Kino Lorber released the Blu-ray in 2014. It comes with a trailer that, frankly, is pretty annoying.

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