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.
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
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.
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.