Eye For Film >> Movies >> Emmanuelle 1, 2, 3, 4 (1984) Film Review
Emmanuelle became notorious in the Seventies as the fashionable face of nymphomania. Her soft core lifestyle was full of Eastern promise. The glorification of an open marriage, with plenty of casual encounters, seems naive and misguided now.
The arrival of four Emmanuelles in unexpurgated DVD offers a voyeuristic wallow in post-colonial (post-coital) decadence. All are shot in exotic locations. The women, without exception, have beautiful bodies. The men are less memorable. Her husband in 2 and 3 (Umberto Orsini) passes muster, it has to be said. At least, he can act.
Emmanuelle 4 is so daft it shouldn't be allowed out in public. Sylvia Kristel, who plays the bisexual heroine, has plastic surgery in order to escape from a discarded lover. She wakes up from the operation as Mia Nygren, a lissome model 13 years younger, who says "I want to be free and make love to the whole of Brazil." She has a try, but bumps into that man again, who sees her as a different person, suitable for seduction. Naturally, she complies.
Between 1 and 3 the girl with perfect breasts progresses from innocent young wife to rapacious adulteress. Her husband in 1 works for the diplomatic service in Bangkok, where the ex-pats "practice idleness as a fine art." By 3 she's stuck away in the Sechelles and he's an architect.
The locations are juicy and far from home, which encourages bad behaviour. Money appears no object. Servants hover.
Girlplay and threesomes are popular, although the only truly erotic sequence is in a bathhouse on Bali in 2. The storylines are used as backdrop for the sexy bits except in 3 when E falls in love with a drippy film director and Mr E is jealous. "I'll stoop to any mean trick to hold you," he says, and does.
1 looks dated, with his Carnaby Street strides and their hanging basket chairs. Her education into erotica is left to a creepy old purve who takes her to an opium den and watches while a doped up local stud has his way with her.
2 is directed by an Italian and resembles a fashion shoot for Vogue. E has become a predator in the love jungle, beginning with a ravishing blonde on a crowded liner in the China seas and moving into men once at Hong Kong - a flyer, a polo player, a dance teacher - before befriending a teenage girl, who joins them in the Bali bathhouse. There is not much room for plot.
3 is more jaded, although just as scenic. E says, "Making love is the main interest in my life," as if you hadn't guessed by now. But her heart's not in it. Also, she's cut her hair which is a mistake. The story kicks in when she goes wobbly over the Parisian moviemaker who looks gay and Mr E snaps out of his self-satisfied cocoon and does something positive for a change.
4 is mad. And bad. It does contain the unforgettable line: "Boys are like dough. There is a certain way of touching them that will make them rise."
The acting is abysmal and the dubbing appalling. Simulated orgasms begin to pall after a while and the humour is entirely unintentional.Reviewed on: 08 Nov 2001