Ben Oliver

Banner image for Emmanuelle


Making love is not important, its the way you make love.
06 February 2024

The wife of a French diplomat in Bangkok (Sylvia Kristel) goes on a journey of sexual awakening.

I’d heard of these films in the past and had always written them off as softcore sleaze until an article in Little White Lies drew my attention to them. At the time they were blockbuster hits, selling out cinemas for years.

Well sure enough this first instalment better than just filth. There’s a sweaty artistry to the way the film is shot on location, it’s exotic as well as erotic. Emmanuelle inhabits a world where everyone is down to fuck all the time and sure that doesn’t entirely make sense, but as a tale of female self-discovery it kind of works.

Then it takes all that and throws it in the bin with a hideous and unpleasant final third that immediately reminds you that, in spite of what preceded, at its core this film doesn’t really like women.

The director is called Just Jaeckin, which is nominative determinism at its finest.