Long thought lost until its surprise DVD resurrection by UK company Nucleus Films on its Naughty sub-label devoted to European erotica, this provides ample proof if such were needed that Jean-Claude Roy once was an inspired and imaginative filmmaker before he got bogged down in the blatant boinking banality of the assembly line adult product he dishearteningly cranked out as "Patrick Aubin". For the record, this is the very first film where latter pseudonym pops up in the credits even though chronologically preceded by the release of LES CUISSES EN CHALEUR (which literally translates as Hot Thighs), his first "real" hardcore endeavor. Apart from a few fleeting explicit blow job inserts, added just prior to its belated theatrical release along with several simulated sex scenes featuring the early likes of Gilda Arancio and Richard "Allan" Lemieuvre still more graphic than anything already in the can, JUSTINE'S HOT NIGHTS stays staunchly soft core, fitting more comfortably within what was already shaping up as a distinguished and tastefully titillating body of work including DOSSIER PROSTITUTION, LA MAFFIA DU PLAISIR and LES PETITES FILLES MODELES.
A scathing satire on both consumer culture and the crass commercialization of sex through art and media, JUSTINE showcases a director of tremendous intelligence and wit, only flickers of which would occasionally shine through in his explicit efforts on those rare occasions when he could actually be bothered as in LA RAGE DU SEXE, MAITRESSE POUR COUPLE or LES APRES-MIDI D'UNE BOURGEOISE EN CHALEUR. His 1983 return to simulated sex respectability with the sharply funny EDUCATION ANGLAISE confirmed that the old dog had lost none of his bite. Although a bit of a mess inevitably, what with all that was added and substituted prior to projection, JUSTINE bubbles over with ideas and pointed pastiches of film and literature barely contained by its framework narrative.
Once respected filmmaker whose work's no longer considered "cutting edge" by those in the know, Mick Farèse (well-played by handsome Philippe Gasté, best remembered for his performances in Jean-François Davy's naughty triptych consisting of BANANES MECANIQUES, PRENEZ LA QUEUE COMME TOUT LE MONDE and Q) finds himself pressured by a sleazy, money-grabbing producer (pricelessly portrayed by veteran character actor Bernard Musson, who has appeared for Bunuel in THE MILKY WAY and THE DISCREET CHARM OF BOURGEOISIE) into producing an unflinching porno epic because sex is the only thing that audiences seem to be clamoring for these days. Assuming it will all be done in the best possible taste, Mick's successful actress wife Nina (a sparkling, Carole Lombard type turn by beautiful one shot wonder Michèle Baron) agrees to star, fresh from baring all on the Paris stage. If only Mick could find inspiration to create that fabled fornication film that would draw the disparate opinions of both porn theater patrons and ivory tower critics who scoff at such vulgarity closer together. Enter Justine (frizzy-curled stunner Nadia Kapler), a nude dancer in a revue Mick and Nina saw that night before and who may just be a figment of their imagination as they frantically search for an angle that will make their sex saga stand out from the crowd.
Mere words can hardly convey the playful anarchy characterizing this anything goes barrage of cinematic quips and non sequiturs, spoofing popular "palatable" porn like EMMANUELLE and Bertolucci's LAST TANGO IN Paris one minute and then taking a stab at Diderot's once scandalous La Réligieuse (The Nun) without a moment's pause. International politics get the savage ribbing they undoubtedly deserve with a cleverly irreverent Henry Kissinger montage and a genuinely shocking cat food commercial proves endemic of Roy's rarely suppressed socialist if not downright communist sympathies. All of these incongruous elements are leveled at the audience at breakneck speed like a stream of consciousness runaway train spewing food for thought, punctuated by the copious nudity required by a genre still in the process of exploring its boundaries at that time. Although carnal content was extensively elaborated upon at the last minute, thankfully in a style that makes the additions fit in fairly seamlessly with the patchwork narrative, sex scenes are short and not required to "play out" once their point has been made, which would surely have killed off Roy's intentions had this been the case.
DoP Robert Millié, a/k/a "Pierre Robès" on porno projects, proves his mettle by fluidly adapting his visual style to suit the director's needs at any given moment and was to become a Roy collaborator throughout his checkered career. Keeping the tempo up and running, crucial for this brand of all over the place material to work at all, is editor Claude Guérin who did a bang up job on Jean-Marie Pallardy's finest film L'AMOUR AUX TROUSSES a/k/a BODY GAMES on Skinemax screenings. Special mention should also be made of the catchy theme song by former Eurovision song contestant (though, alas, not winner) Guy Bonnet, opening and closing the film with sarcastic lyrics playing over crude but cute Siné type animation.
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