A relatively tame adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's work, "Vice and Virtue" seems to combine two of de Sade's works: "Justine" and "120 Days of Sodom". Here most of the suffering is implied, in contrast with Pasolini's "Salò" which is also set near the end of World War II but leaves little to the imagination. Although Deneuve as Justine grabs your attention, Girardot as Juliette is the real center of the film.
The visuals and lead performances by Girardot & DeNeuve are a pleasure to behold. Unfortunately the story is leering, creepy, misogynistic, and moralizing in the worst way and I really wish the film didn't appear to take such unchecked delight in inflicting sexual violence and perverse punishments upon women under the guise of historical commentary.
Of course it's fun to watch a very young Deneuve personify Virtue and a world-weary Annie Girardot as Vice. I's also interesting to see early Vadim, when he clearly wanted to be taken seriously. The Wagner music is a bit much, but incorporating archival footage feels pretty groundbreaking. Not much on script but gorgeous to look at, and the performances make it compelling.
Overly bombastic, tedious script and score. Outdatedly, distastefully, creepily misogynistic. Loved when von Bamberg plays Mendelssohn lieder about trout on the piano. More moments like that would have made vice argument less heavy-handed. Brilliant cinematography best seen on big screen. Purely 60s costumes/hairstyles look silly in 1940s historical production. Film will survive by virtue of starring Deneuvre.
An interesting take on shifting allegiances and self-preservation at tail end of World War II, and Vadim's notable work with female actors (in this case Annie Girardot) is on display in one of his early works. However, the tie-in to De Sade doesn't work; the film is more about maintaining virtue in the face of vice than in vice itself, and it becomes much more mainstream than necessary.
Incredible cinematography. Vadim makes excellent use of seen/unseen, heard/unheard, heightening the overall dramatic effect. The frequently-stark black/white contrast is exploited beautifully, corresponding to the subject matter. The film avoids melodrama (mostly) and settles for making a simple, yet vital, point.
Barbarella was the only film by Vadim I had seen before, so I was expecting something a lot more sleazy. Vice and Virtue surprised me by being something quite different. The cinematography was excellent, gorgeous black and white... mirrors, shadows and strange interiors. Virtue triumphs in the end, unlike Sade's novels.