Lady Emanuelle
Italy | 1989
Directed by Pasquale Fanetti
Antonio Zequila
| 80 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Exploitation Digital
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    6   10 = Highest Rating  
Guest Review by Troy Howarth
Dissatisfied with her loveless marriage, Emanuelle (Malů) finds temporary solace in the arms of another woman...
    Totally disconnected from the popular series of sexploitation potboilers popularized by Sylvia Kristel and Laura Gemser, Lady Emanuelle is a turgid soft core soap opera.
    Despite a fair amount of bare skin, some of it very attractive, the film is seldom convincingly erotic. Only a pleasingly kinky scene wherein Emanuelle and her lover humiliate a young stud and a steamy (pardon the pun) steam bath encounter succeed in breaking the tedium of director Pasquale Fanetti's approach. Apparently looking to make a serious statement about love, Fanetti stuffs the film with meaningful but hopelessly clumsy and pretentious speeches about love and lust, as if seeking desperately to lift the film out of its grindhouse origins but failing to do so. This is very much a film wherein people don't speak — they expound deep meaningful philosophical thoughts that are never as cutting as Fanetti seems to think; the result is every bit as exciting as it sounds.
Amid the stilted dialogue and listless groping, Fanetti who also photographed the film creates a few mildly effective images, but the film has the form and look of a soap commercial: pretty, slick and overexposed, completely lacking in a sense of personal style. If anything the film is more reminiscent of the slick direct-to-video softcore epics shown late at night on Cinemax than the kinkier films its title is aping. Fanetti's sense of pacing is nonexistent at just 80 minutes, the film feels much longer and he's similarly clueless with his actors. Performances range from amateurish to somnambulistic, with little in the way of middle ground. A particularly risible sequence in which Emanuelle plays pool against a tough pimp in order to win the freedom of the pretty boy transvestite she's fallen for only serves to remind one of how good films like The Hustler and The Color of Money really are.
    As a sex film, Lady Emanuelle fails because of the pretentious nature of its execution. Fanetti aims for a more highbrow concept, but lacks the conviction to pull it off; most of the 'action' feels limp and halfhearted. On the plus side, it has to be admitted that Malů and Micaela are stunningly attractive performers. Malů, in particular, is a real knockout, reminiscent in some shots of Euro-Cult scream queen Edwige Fenech. Alas, the chemistry between the two actresses is lacking, and one can clearly see that they aren't really in to what they are doing. Apart from the aforementioned sequences that manage to click, albeit only to a certain degree, the sex scenes are every bit as tedious as the material surrounding it. It's not every director who can make actresses like Malů boring to watch, so Fanetti has a mark of distinction in that regard. A cheesy, repetitious synth score is the final nail in the coffin the fourth of fifth time the generic main theme repeats itself you'll find yourself wondering just how much mileage the filmmakers will get out of it; the answer is, way too much.
    While hardly the worst film of its ilk, Lady Emanuelle is still recommended or softcore completists only.

The Media Blasters release of Lady Emanuelle, as part of their ongoing Exploitation Digital series of DVDs, is satisfactory. The 1.85/16x9 transfer looks very good. Colors are accurately rendered, and framing seems to be correct. Print damage is negligible, and is limited to some minor speckling in some shots. The mono Italian soundtrack is clean and clear, and the English subtitles — in yellow and mostly confined to the bottom matte — are easy to read.
Extras include the trailer, trailers for other Media Blasters releases, and some extra footage, temp scored by the ubiquitous central music cue, that would have benefited the film; these include some spicy additions to the steam bath sequence, the addition of which would have bulked up a hopelessly limp production. 2/03/06
UPDATE In April 2008 Media Blasters re-released Lady Emanuelle as part of the 3-disc Emanuelle Collection Triple Pack, which also includes Divine Emanuelle and Yellow Emanuelle. The set sells for less than one of the individual DVDs.