Picks and Pans Review: Bolero

UPDATED 09/24/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/24/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

For those aspiring actresses hoping to pick up some pointers from Bo Derek in this film: Yes, she does employ her revolutionary, all-purpose acting technique of nibbling on the tip of her fingernail. She employs it four or five times, in fact, to reflect determination, anxiety, shyness, pensiveness and—although one can't be sure of this—even a subtle rebuke to her manicurist. Anyway, in Bolero, written and directed by her husband, John, Bo plays a rich young woman who graduates from college and sets out to lose her virginity. She first offers herself up to a desert sheik; after slopping honey all over Bo's naked body—with some nuts and whipped cream he could have made a ham sundae—he falls asleep. So is this a bad satire? No, it's a bad serious romance. For Bo tries to turn on a Spanish bullfighter, played with extreme handsomeness by newcomer Andrea Occhipinti. Drama ensues when Occhipinti is gored by a bull, right in the unmentionables, but Bo is undaunted. To arouse Occhipinti's prurient interest, she even rides her horse around the bullring bareback—also barefront, baretop and barebottom. When he still seems uninterested, she sighs, "You're a hard man to seduce." When they do get around to their love scenes, they perform soft-core-porn style; Occhipinti's bull-damaged area is not visible. Bo, however, is right out there on display. Her facial expressions during lovemaking suggest not so much passion as, oh, seasickness or maybe a dislocated hip. John's camera grinds right along with her, proving for posterity that a woman can be impossibly beautiful and still seem not at all sexy. Trivia fans will note that, title notwithstanding, the Ravel composition that accompanied Bo's prettiness in 10 is not heard in this film; Bolero's music, written by Peter Bernstein and conducted by his father, Elmer, seems, especially during the film's lurid moments, more appropriate to Championship Wrestling. (Not rated)

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