Review of Bolero

Bolero (1984)
A misunderstood film...
23 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I believe the problem this movie had upon release, was that it was seen by the wrong audience. Bolero is in fact, quite an enjoyable film, featuring some gorgeous scenery, lush score, and some over-the-top romantic fantasy. Of course the controversy over the explicit sex scenes and the movie being released with an unofficial X rating, attracted a somewhat inappropriate audience. The people that saw this in the cinema were most likely looking for sleaze, non-stop graphic sex featuring the gorgeous sex symbol Bo Derek. Of course they were displeased by what they saw. It had one of the highest records of people walking out of a theater and demanding their money back. Why? Because the film is nothing like what it was hyped up to be. There are very few sex scenes in this one, (or more appropriately: love scenes). Granted, the sex, when it finally is shown is indeed quite graphic and erotic, especially for the 80's. The story itself is pure escapism: Two girls, upon graduating from university in the 1920's, decide to travel across the world to lose their virginity! Bo's possible suitors are, first, a beautiful Arab sheik, reminiscent of Valentino, who was the ultimate sex fantasy of girls everywhere at the time this film takes place. Later a Spanish Matador becomes the object of Derek's affection. The story plays like a trashy erotic romance novel, and some people love this kind of fantasy. Unfortunately those people, who might have enjoyed the film, would not have been caught dead going to see a "dirty movie", which was how Bolero was advertised. What is "Bolero"? It is a actually a romantic comedy. The laughs elicited from the audience are intentional. The film constantly pokes fun at itself. For example, the scene in the Casbah, when "Ayre", the character portrayed by Derek, is standing by the piano and listening to the famous tune from "Casablanca", a movie considered by many to be one of the greatest movie masterpieces of all time. Being reminded of "Casablanca" while watching a film like "Bolero" is truly hilarious. And so many of the lines uttered by Bo Derek are just too over-the-top to be unintentional. The cool thing about "Bolero" is that it seems to know exactly what it is. The mere presence of veteran George Kennedy is a riot, as is the sarcastic style in which he delivers his lines. Everybody is having fun with this film, and I imagine that they all knew this was going to be the great American "tease" of the 80's. Not that "Bolero" doesn't deliver in the end. As mentioned, the erotic scenes are beautifully filmed, and set to sweeping romantic classical scores. In particular the scene where Ayre finally loses her virginity to her handsome matador. And the scene where the sheik licks the honey from Ayre's breasts and stomach; stunning. Bo Derek certainly is no actress, but she plays her character with a certain amount of comedy and wide-eyed innocence that makes her somehow likable. And there is romantic/sexual chemistry between her and Andrea Occhipinti. I recently purchased the DVD and the anamorphic picture looks great. It now has an 'R' rating, but nothing seems to be cut. Don't believe all the bad reviews. If you like trashy romantic novels and films that take place in beautiful locales, with beautiful people, check this out. When compared with the made for TV and video "erotic" movies of today, Bolero is a masterpiece!
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