|Index||5 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How could Franco manage to shoot all those gems in such a short period of
time? Let this remain his secret, and let's just enjoy every piece of film
he made. Here once again we are served with a story full of softcore
psychedelic sex, captured by Jess' voyeuristic camera, and the main actress,
Mona Proust, is worth it. The movie begins with a cabaret scene, just like
many Franco titles, and a prostitute in the club seduces a mature man and
takes him to a hotel room. The guy is real drunk, they have "sex", and then
the girl calls the police and kills herself.
This "intriguing start" leads to a sexual adventure full of sordid characters, interesting scenes and entertaining musical moments that you will remember forever, if you are a Franco lover like I am. This movie definitely is a must-see in the sexploitation domain and it has all it takes to become a cult classic.
This was my 20th excursion into Jess Franco territory which I watched
via a DVD-R dub, the first one I've viewed of the kind; actually, it
was a toss-up between this and 99 WOMEN (1968) but since neither film's
title was indicated on their respective case, I just inserted the first
one that came to hand in my DVD player! Unfortunately in this case, the
VHS original was not in very good shape, resulting in frequent loss of
both picture and sound but since this is a De Nesle production, no
official DVD release looks to be on the horizon, so it will have to do
until that estate's notorious legal wrangles are finally unbound!
So, how does SINNER fare within the massive and eclectic Franco canon? Well, I'd rate it as average overall, not one of the best I've seen but neither is it a total disaster. Still, I have to say that with such an intriguing plot line, I was expecting a more committed approach to the material (but then this IS Franco, after all); as it is, the film only comes together when the protagonist's crucial diary is belatedly introduced in our story but more on that later. The worst of it, perhaps, is its general amateurishness (including the high-pitched English dubbing) though I can see how a reasonably good Widescreen print on DVD, in the original French language, could work wonders with this film!
As is customary with Franco, the film is padded with gratuitous nudity (starting with the very first shot!) that is titillating at first but gets numbing and fairly tedious after a while. Thankfully though, the sex scenes are not particularly graphic this time around; the diary of the original title is infinitely more explicit and, maybe, it's just as well! (Actually, this plot 'device' goes a long way in excusing the presence of so much bare flesh, once we learn just WHAT makes this particular leading lady tick.)
Every female character in the film is somewhat incongruously depicted as a lesbian (the men, on the other hand, are virtually incidental to the narrative, appearing mainly so as to take sexual advantage of the protagonist!) but they mostly manage to be effective and distinct nonetheless, if a little too one-note for this reason:
· Montserrat Prous has the more demanding role, obviously, as the 'sinner' of the English title and, all in all, she does a satisfactory job of it (she's certainly one of the most beautiful women ever to grace a Franco film)
· Anne Libert the aristocrat who misguidedly 'schools' her and the selfish, uninhibited Kali Hansa (hilariously announcing that since she hates wearing clothes, naturally she became a stripper!) as her female lovers make for quite a contrast
· Jacqueline Laurent (playing the mixed-up wife of Prous' 'final' client, who discovers almost immediately the truth of the situation, i.e. her husband was the one who had 'ruined' the girl to begin with, but only decides to act upon it at the very end by which time she's been turned into a lesbian herself!) and Doris Thomas (giving an over-the-top performance as a genial, but ultimately lonely, smut photographer) as the ageing women who, in their way, are also drawn into the girl's hedonistic life-style
· Howard Vernon, however, lends the whole film some much needed gravitas as a well-meaning doctor: he invests his brief but pivotal role with surprising humanity and sincerity; his final and, perhaps, inevitable capitulation to Prous' baser needs (the pained look on his face, as he sees her from his bedroom window sneak inside the clinic against his better judgment, speaks volumes) is remarkably well handled
Other effective moments in the film are: the first rape scene, which is well shot in a fairground setting (and on a moving ferris-wheel to boot!) but rather tame, considering the film's usually unabashed dwelling on the naked female form (besides Mona Proust, as the end titles would have it, does not convince as a school-girl in pig-tails she's simply too tall and shapely for that); the scene where Libert and Prous go for a swim and the camera pulls back so that the screen is filled with the sun's blinding rays is beautifully done demonstrating that Franco CAN add an unexpected dash of style to the proceedings at the drop of a hat when the mood strikes him; and the 'cold turkey' scene (actually shot in a pretty straightforward manner and effectively underscored by a disorienting musical theme) which is not only this film's particular highlight but, quite possibly, one of the most memorable scenes in the whole Franco canon!
SINNER has taken the not-too-disreputable 11th place in my 'Ranking Franco' database. Thinking back on all of those I've watched so far, it's beginning to look like the less Franco concentrates on following a 'logical' narrative form in his films the better for them (now that's quite a turnabout for me, I give you that!): this one should have had a more overtly 'psychedelic' feel to it (the various exotic nightclub scenes and the 'groovy' music, at least, try to steer us in that direction); instead it's treated as if we were supposed to be watching a serious case-history or some kind of an expose' when it's certainly not the case, given that the handling is just too superficial and 'exploitative' for that sort of thing! Still, for me at least, it may be best to approach a Franco film as a parallel form of cinema and not think about 'standard' cinematic conventions while watching it! To tell you the truth, I had intended to follow this immediately with 99 WOMEN but thought better of it (Franco's cinema is a bit like a prescription pill, too one should be careful not to take too much of it at once!), and opted to watch the Laurel & Hardy masterpiece SONS OF THE DESERT (1933) on VHS instead which, as a matter of fact, proved to be a far more gratifying experience on a personal level even if I practically knew that film by heart!
In the end, SINNER is not a bad film as Franco films go, but neither is it the penetrating character study which the gripping scenario had promised or indeed that it COULD have been had the director chosen, for once, to undermine his singular obsession with depicting sex for its own sake on screen! Who's grumbling?
** 1/2 (out of 4)
A young virginal girl runs away from home but gets raped, which turns her into a nymphomaniac but she sees revenge when she runs back into the rapist. This is a very interesting film from director Jess Franco that plays out a lot more serious than one might expect. The reasons to why the young girl turns to sex is an interesting one and one that isn't normal for any type of film. I think the screenplay really lets the film down because it tries to handle the material at a mature and smart level but there aren't too many brains here. The performances are all rather good however. Howard Vernon has a small role.
Sinner is truly one of Jess Franco's best films with an unusually
strong plot and strong performances all around for a Franco film.
Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac was made during the Robert
de Nesle period of Franco's career and also the post Soledad Miranda,
pre Lina Romay years of 1971-72. Right after the death of Soledad
Miranda Franco wasted zero time in finding and getting a new team of
producers and group of actors for which he churned many films out at a
furious pace. Sinner I think is one of his best from this two year time
period. The two stars in this one is obviously Anne Libert and
Montserrat Prous with latter being the lead and focus. Prous gives a
stunning performance as Linda Vargas. Ann Libert plays the Countess
Anna de Monterey who takes in this cute lost girl who's been taken
advantage of by every man she comes into contact with, but Linda soon
meets with a photographer and prostitute, loses trust in the only one
trying to help her and descends into a world of prostitution and drugs.
It's all here folks the Cinematography, the 'sexadelic' scenes, the incredible music score, the resort like location of the Spanish coast and the freedom for Franco to do what he does best. Create this weird, dreamlike, delirious psychedelic sex world. There's also this incredible commentary by Linda about sex and society while we watch people dancing in this nightclub to this prog jazz score transitioning to a scene where we see a group of hippies smoking pot. A nightmare Ferris wheel sequence and the sexual philosophies from Linda's diary as we get to know more about her as the story evolves in this film. Those are just some tidbits I'll throw out there for all new or veteran Franco fans who haven't seen this film and might be interested in purchasing the movie.
70's Euro cult sleaze at it's finest! Highly Recommended! 8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Eager and beautiful young innocent Linda (sweetly played with charming
naiveté by the lovely Montserrat Prous) comes to the big city seeking
fun and excitement. Linda soon finds herself caught up in a hedonistic
fast lane lifestyle of sex and drugs that threatens to completely
consume her. Meanwhile, Linda keeps a secret diary of her tawdry
Director Jess Franco, who also co-wrote the grimly serious and hard-hitting script with Elisabeth Ledu de Nesle, presents a fascinatingly sordid exploration of the seamy underbelly of the swinging 70's sexual revolution that warns against the potential dangers of libertine permissiveness without ever getting too preachy or moralistic about it. Of course, Franco also delivers a plethora of yummy female nudity and his trademark scorching lesbian couplings, but it's his exceptionally focused and unwavering direction along with his stark and unflinching depiction of the doomed protagonist's increasing alienation which in turn gives this picture a strong extra dramatic punch. This film further benefits from a bevy of luscious ladies: Anne Libert as worldly mentor Countess Anna de Monterey, Jacqueline Laurent as the inquisitive Rosa, and Kali Hansa as uninhibited stripper Maria Toledano. Franco regular Howard Vernon does fine work as a wannabe helpful doctor while Franco acquits himself well in a decent-sized part as a police inspector. Gerard Brisseau's bright cinematography provides a handsome and sunny look. The throbbing prog-rock score by Vladimir Cosma and Jean-Bernard Raiteux hits the get-down groovy spot. Essential viewing for Franco fans.
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