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Marquis De Sade: Justine is a long way from being unwatchable as there are a number of things that are good. It is however a very strange film and not a very easy one to rate.
Starting with what is good about Marquis De Sade: Justine, coming off best is the music score which is outstanding, if on occasions overpowering, very stirring and rich in sound and it fits the film very well. The film also looks good, the sets are simply gorgeous, the plentiful costumes are certainly attractive and a lot of care was clearly put into the cinematography which is beautiful. The crowd scenes are tense and rousing and while he sometimes overdoes with the fading in and out Jesse Franco does give some of his most competent directing ever, though it does feel very different for him. While I was not very impressed with the acting generally, the charming Maria Rohm makes the most out of her brief role and Mercedes Mccambridge is an absolute hoot.
Romina Power is very wooden in the lead role on the other hand, while Klaus Kinski is criminally underused and pretty much wasted, spending his entire screen looking remote, and Jack Palance is embarrassingly over-the-top and out of place. I like Palance but not here, he's not as bad as he was in Che! and Outlaw of Gor but this is one of his worst performances. While the film is undeniably fun there are too many times where the story is episodically disjointed and lethargically paced, sometimes not as cohesive as it could be. It also feels very tame and toned down by today's standards and not sleazy or sensual enough, the story is one where those qualities are necessary and it just felt bland and agreed too correct. The ending is very heavy-handed when you can actually hear the dialogue when it's not being drowned out the stilted way it's written and uninvolved line delivery from most makes it not really worth listening to.
In conclusion, not unwatchable but very strange and not easy to make of. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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