Directed by JUST JAECKIN
Screenplay by JEAN-LOUIS RICHARD
This deliquescent soft-core number from France is being distributed by a major studio (Columbia) with the benefit of a full-scale ad campaign. No exclusive linage in the sex sheets, no adhesive stickers for the walls of public toilets. Emmanuelle is being hyped as a classier breed of porn. It is as if being French somehow makes it fancier. Accordingly, there are windy full-page newspaper ads that inquire coyly, "What is the most sensual part of your body?" Several of the more likely possibilities are dismissed before the lofty conclusion is reached: the mind, the erogenous zone that is allegedly the most susceptible to Emmanuelle's charms. Anyone who falls for this come-on deserves the movie. Emmanuelle could not cause a tingle in the Achilles tendon of a celibate scoutmaster. Why it is turning on the French it is a box office smash in Paris is a matter for the most melancholy sociological conjecture.
It should be kept in mind, of course, that the well-lathered extremes of American porn are banned in France. Without knowledge of Deep Throat, Emmanuelle might seem like pretty hot stuff. This gives the film rather too much credit, however. Emmanuelle would have to go up against something like The Greatest Story Ever Told before it could begin to look titillating.
Hectic Coupling. The movie is fussy, overdecorated, and tricked out with a silly plot about a young woman's discovery of the ultimate turn-on. Emmanuelle (Sylvia Kristel) is the wife of a French diplomat in Bangkok who encourages her to fall into any kind and combination of sexual escapades to fur ther her erotic education. He even urges her into the arms of an aging sybarite (Alain Cuny), who wows her with such metaphysical pronouncements as "True love is erection, not the orgasm."
There is a great deal of hectic coupling in this film, all of it staged with chintzy tastefulness, as if the participants were being arranged for a department-store window display. The exotic Far Eastern locations make for a few postcard snaps and a lot of unintentionally hilarious dialogue. Murmurs a sapphic archaeologist setting up a rendezvous with Emmanuelle: "Come to the klongal 2." Had Terry Southern been involved, the city of Bangkok might have been the occasion for a few robust puns. But that, like much else, presumably does not translate.