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Emmanuelle Movie Review

film mario bangkok jaeckin

In 1975, Emmanuelle was the most popular movie in France. It was called “a sexual Vogue” by someone or other and also an “'X’ you can take your wife to.” If adult audiences required THAT much assurance, they needed more help than mere publicity hacks could provide! The ultimate comment on the film? Emmanuelle stinks, then and now. It is the story of an innocent young girl (Sylvia Kristel) who joins her husband (Daniel Sarky) in Bangkok. Just how innocent any girl can be who seduces two men on the flight to Bangkok is left to our imaginations. But no matter. All the wives in Bangkok are bored; there is nothing for them to do. This is the stuff that old X-rated films are made of. Emmanuelle befriends a young archaeologist (Marika Green, who'd once worked with Bresson). The tension mounts; maybe Emmanuelle will get a job, too? Maybe then she won't be so bored! But no. She has a disillusioning fling with the archaeologist, and then searches for “fulfillment” with a 67-year-old “expert” named Mario (played by Alain Cuny, a Shakespearean actor who'd worked with Carne, Malle, Fellini, Buñuel, and Rosi and now with JUST JAECKIN on THIS?!). The film gets very cerebral after that. “What's eroticism to you?” Mario asks Emmanuelle. Well, Emmanuelle is not sure. She thinks maybe it's the “cult of sensual joy,” or something like that. Wrong, says Mario. It's really the “rejection of the subterfuge to lucidity.” Well, I'm certainly glad Mario cleared THAT up, or I'd never have known. Mario also tells her that “to arrive at the unknown, you must leave reason behind.” (Translate that: rape can set you free.) Then, director Jaeckin decides that what his X-rated French masterpiece really needs is symbolism. See, there's this chicken at the beginning of the film that gets his head cut off. Are you following? Later on, Emmanuelle smears on enough mascara to initiate a worldwide Maybelline shortage, and—SURPRISE!—dons feathers. She hates uptight people now. She's ready to compete with Ziggy Stardust anytime. The film is only 92 minutes long, but you could have fooled me. If it weren't for Richard Suzuki's impressive cinematography, I wouldn't have one good thing to say about this movie. If you're looking for a film that puts women in their place and that gives new meaning to words like dull and annoying, by all means, indulge in Emmanuelle's endless psychological inanities. woof!

1974 92m/C FR Sylvia Kristel, Alain Cuny, Marika Green, Daniel Sarky; D: Just Jaeckin; W: Jean-Louis Richard; C: Richard Suzuki; M: Pierre Bachelet. VHS, DVD

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