Life is a Bed of Roses (1983)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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With Life is a Bed of Roses, filmmaker Alain Resnais wanted to create a lighthearted tribute to three important French directors, each of whom defined a particular era in his country's cinema Melies (the first French filmmaker to use narrative--his most famous film is A Trip to the Moon), the impressionist L'Herbier (most famous for his inspirational avant garde work during the '20s) and Rohmer (most famed for his sextet of "Moral Tales" during the '60s). To present his chronicle of the human quest for a utopia of personal happiness and fulfillment, Resnais created two distinct narratives representing the past and present, and then interspliced them with a third more fantastical tale to provide contrast. Representing the past, the first tale centers on a monied eccentric who creates a "temple of happiness' in his chateau. There, guests are given a special potion, laid inside enormous cribs and surrounded by pleasant sensations to help them return to the blissful state of infancy. The second story takes place in the same chateau where a symposium on the techniques and philosophies of the eccentric are hotly debated and elaborated upon. Weaving its way between the two tales is the third, which represents the medieval fantasies of children in a forest who imagine the struggle between a wicked king and a brave good-hearted warrior. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:
International Spectrafilm

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Vittorio Gassman
as Walter Guarini
Ruggero Raimondi
as Michel Forbek
Geraldine Chaplin
as Nora Winkle
Fanny Ardant
as Livia Cerasquier
Sabine Azéma
as Elizabeth
Pierre Arditi
as Robert
Samson Fainsilber
as Zoltan Forbek
Véronique Silver
as Nathalie Holberg
André Dussollier
as Raoul Vandamme
Robert Manuel
as Georges
Martine Kelly
as Claudine
Jean-Louis Richard
as Pere Jean Vatelet
Lucienne Hamon
as Juliette Vatelet
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu
as School teacher
Francine Bergé
as Young lady
Nathalie Holberg
as Veronique
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Critic Reviews for Life is a Bed of Roses

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (3)

Resnais speculates on the utopian dream that life is infinitely perfectable, that human chaos, despair and horror can be spirited or educated out of existence. There are two stories, to correspond to each of these possibilities.

Full Review… | June 29, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

It's more memorable for various isolated witticisms and images than it is as a coherent whole. And its flightier touches can be deadly.

June 29, 2007
New York Times
Top Critic

The material manages at once to be both precious and dry, the staging is unprofitably claustrophobic, and the structure less ingenious than arbitrary.

Full Review… | June 29, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A unique and funny film from intellectual French director Resnais.

Full Review… | June 21, 2010
TV Guide

Utopia is folly, though human fluidity here is the stuff of both Wagnerian myth and Gallic farce

Full Review… | February 14, 2010

Often very funny and witty.

Full Review… | February 1, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Life is a Bed of Roses


Im beginning to think that while Godard is the more historically important film maker, he was always been foremost a "critic", whose main aim was to create webs of references and change our ways of veiwing cinema as an art, andd though I have allot of respect and admiration for his work and the role of criticism in general, the poetry, politcs, and philosophy his characters often talk about second-hand is fully embodied in the films of Alian Resnais, who managed to absob Godard's self-awarness, but also to transcend it. Godard was always taking notes, while Resnais was writing essays(or so Ive come to feel of late). This is a strange, but brilliant multi-storied, pseudo-musical, about the role of fantasy and imagination. A wealthy Utopian group in the early 1900's builds an elaborate castle called "The City Of Happiness", where they can try to be "reborn" through a series of esoteric rituals like Jodorwosky's "Holy Mountain", while years later when the structure has become a boarding school a group of educators have a conference on the role of imagiantion in education. Several children who have remained at the school during the conference run around and imagine a world of knights and dragons and monsters. The three stories are edited together sublimely bouncing and contrasting their themes of off one another, in funny, insightful, and emotionally engaging ways.

Joseph Sylvers
Joseph Sylvers

So I thought I Want to Go Home was just an aberration for Resnais, but unfortunately I was wrong. This is every bit as over the top, but at least here the cartoon-like characterizations fit better into the children's fairytale-musical context. The humor works pretty well at first but it eventually gets tiresome and plain silly. The three parallel narratives are well juxtaposed together and thematically consistent. In the end the whole farcical arguing and fighting and seducing bullshit didn't do anything for me.

X. T. C.
X. T. C.

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