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Life Is a Bed of Roses (1983)

La vie est un roman (original title)
Three intertwined tales. On the eve of the First World War, Count Forbek starts to build a fantastic castle in the Ardennes forest. After the war he uses it to start a utopian society by ... See full summary »


Alain Resnais


Jean Gruault
3 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Vittorio Gassman ... Walter Guarini
Ruggero Raimondi ... Comte Michel Forbek / Count Michel Forbek
Geraldine Chaplin ... Nora Winkle
Fanny Ardant ... Livia Cerasquier
Pierre Arditi ... Robert Dufresne
Sabine Azéma ... Élisabeth Rousseau
Robert Manuel Robert Manuel ... Georges Leroux
Martine Kelly ... Claudine Obertin
Samson Fainsilber ... Zoltán Forbek
Véronique Silver Véronique Silver ... Nathalie Holberg
André Dussollier ... Raoul Vandamme
Guillaume Boisseau Guillaume Boisseau ... Frédéric
Sabine Thomas Sabine Thomas ... Marie
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu ... School Teacher
Rodolphe Schacher Rodolphe Schacher ... Pierre
Learn more

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Three intertwined tales. On the eve of the First World War, Count Forbek starts to build a fantastic castle in the Ardennes forest. After the war he uses it to start a utopian society by brainwashing his friends, including his former fiancee, Livia, and her husband. In the present day, the castle is being used as an alternative school and, in the summer holidays, for an educational conference. At the conference, the American Nora Winkle bets Claudine that the ernest public school teacher Elisabeth Rousseau will be enticed into the bed of Robert Dufresne, even though the principal speaker, Walter Guarini, is obviously interested in Elisabeth. Meanwhile, the children staying at the castle over the holidays invent their own medieval tale about freeing prisoners from the dungeons. Written by Will Gilbert

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Did You Know?


While old fashioned Kodak film was used for the 1910s scenes and legendary period, modern Fuji film was shot for the 1982 storyline, opposing dreamlike effects of the former to realism of the latter. See more »

User Reviews

Uneven but interesting
10 June 2012 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

I saw Life is a Bed of Roses as an admirer of Ruggero Raimondi, and I do think it is not going to please everybody with a sometimes sluggish pace, the choral interruptions sometimes infuriating and while the three part structure to be interesting with some great ideas introduced the story can lack coherency with some ideas coming across as half-baked and people may find it difficult to get into. However, it is filmed very handsomely with the set and costume design beautifully rendered especially in the last tale. The score is wonderful, giddy and haunting, I loved the theme of the perfectibility of human existence. Of the three tales I found the Forbek tale to be the most well-done with the firmest ending and a genuine sense of drama. The last story was great in idea but never satisfactorily explored, apart from Robert's relationship with his son, everything else seemed underdeveloped and clichéd. I also admire Resnis' ambition, this is clearly an ambitious film and is well-intended, but the execution didn't quite come together. The characters are deliberately kept at distance, and while most are not very easy to empathise with, I did think Robert and Forbek were well-realised. The acting is good though, Ruggero Raimondi always was a fine actor even in the operatic roles like Don Giovanni and Scarpia that he was famous for, and I think he was a big reason why the first tale was believable. Fanny Ardent and Geraldine Chaplin play their roles with ardour, Ardent in particular is incredibly radiant. and Vittorio Gassman is a good Walter. As for Pierre Arditi he does appear obnoxious at first, but plays his role also with pathos. Overall, an uneven film but quite interesting. 6/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

20 April 1983 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Life Is a Bed of Roses See more »

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Color (Eastmancolor)
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