A young ’50s femme’s conspicuous consumption symbolizes the evils of postwar European materialism in “Roses on Credit,” Israeli auteur Amos Gitai’s first fully Gallic production. Though based on an acclaimed novel by Elsa Triolet and strikingly shot in widescreen by Eric Gautier, Gitai’s pretentious, pseudo-Godardian pic has little value except as a vivid example of a film’s apparently bottomless misogyny. Lea Seydoux’s thankless role as greedy Marjoline would seem to give “Credit” a touch of class, but the movie’s sneering contempt for upwardly aspirant women is downright toxic, and, as a result, its commercial fate could suffer.
The director hammers away at the movie’s sole message as Marjoline, married to Daniel (Gregoire le Prince) while working for peanuts in a beauty salon, charges a posh new car, wherein she listens dreamily to radio jingles for nail polish and fancy radiators. “I need the new,” she informs her horticulturalist hubby, who eventually gets the bill. Gitai’s view of Marjoline, complete with repeated pans down her bare leg, hardly improves once she gets pregnant and plans an abortion from a feminist doctor. Ironically, the film’s period settings appear alluringly well adorned.