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Feature


I can’t write these things better than the folks at Blue Underground, so here’s the back of the box description for you:

Diary of a Desperate Housewife!
Cecilia, a haughty aristocrat who enjoys taunting her servants with her flawless physique, finds her life turned upside down when she is violated by the victims of her vicious games. This eye-opening experience leads the newly enlightened libertine into a sordid series of swingin’ socialite soirees, mind-bending bohemian happenings, and brazen backwoods orgies. But when her loving husband also embraces this omnisexual lifestyle, and her amorous antics arouse violence in her sadistic suitors, can Cecilia escape the cruel consequences of her own erotic excess?

Cecilia
Jess Franco’s Cecilia is about twenty percent soft-core sex and about eighty percent filler, and when I say ‘filler’, I mean very thinly veiled filler. The dialogue is repetitive beyond all rational thought, and besides a few lines of exposition (a word I use very loosely) mostly consists of insipid variations on ‘hey, look at that’. Between awkward moments of gyrating hips and breast groping, the film is basically a travel log of France and Portugal covered in the most flat narration imaginable. Have I mentioned that the dialogue is insufferable yet? Because it is. The acting isn’t much better.

I’ve given sleaze merchant Jess Franco more then his fair share of props for not totally dropping the ball with Eugenie de Sade, but this is not one of his more successful endeavours into the erotique. The film is, on the whole, dreadfully dull and slow (one hundred and five minutes crawl by), a much greater poison then bad dialogue, story or acting in a case like this. The girls of Cecilia are hotties, for sure (so long as you can ignore their ‘80s hair cuts), but no one in the cast has the smouldering animal magnetism of Soledad Miranda (as seen in several of Franco’s most successful features) or Sylvia Kristel (as seen in the original Emmanuelle). The lack of a powerful leading lady is another lethal hindrance.

Cecilia
The sex scenes are often undone by bad camera work, including several moments where we can physically see the ‘parts’ not lining up. Sometimes Franco’s camera work is so listless one wonders what the hell he’s looking at. Are we supposed to be focusing on that dude’s fat roll? There are some shots throughout the film taken around Cecilia’s gigantic home or while she rides a horse nude along the beach that are genuinely beautiful, but they depend mostly on the surrealist surroundings rather then the photographer. The editing isn’t much more ‘studied’ then the photography, allowing the lamest sequence continue for painful lengths far beyond the patience of eve the most studious Franco fanatic.

Video


Blue Underground impresses beyond all reasonable expectations once again by providing an image so divinely remastered it boggles the mind. There are new features with decent budgets that don’t look this impressive on DVD. The only moments of obvious imperfection come during the opening credits, when the image is lumpy with dirt and streaks of print damage. Franco’s love of soft focus robs the film of superior crispness, but details are still quite sharp. Compression noise is also minimal, but is noticeable in warm colours and skin tones. Grain is fine, and colours are vibrant.

Cecilia

Audio


Cecilia comes with two audio tracks, one in English and the other in French, both presented in Dolby Digital two-channel Mono. The English track is better defines, but neither track is particularly impressive. Most of the fault lies with the original material, which was most likely all added in post. Sound effects are canned and very minimal, sometime even laughable. At the beginning of the film Cecilia takes a skinny dip with the ne’er-do-wells that ‘raped’ her, and each full-grown man dives into the water to the sound of a small pebble in a pool. The film’s score is looped from a small handful of pieces, mostly made up of organ work. This repetitive music is the only distinctly distorted part of the soundtrack, with the exception of a few stray pops and snaps.

Extras


Just like every other Blue Underground release of a Jess Franco film, Cecilia comes with an interview with the director himself. It’s really amazing that Franco can remember so many things about specific films in his cannon because he’s made about a million of them. This interview focuses most on Cecilia (or as Franco calls it Sexual Aberrations of a Housewife), the shoot in Portugal, the house they shoot in, his actors, LSD parties at Sergio Leone’s house, and briefly about Spain’s newfound cinematic freedom after the end of General Franco’s dictatorship. Again, this seems to have been filmed at the same time as all the other BU Franco interviews, and is subtitled because Franco’s English is weak. The interview lasts seventeen minutes, and is followed by the disc’s only other extra, a trailer.

Cecilia

Overall


More semi-classy smut from Jess Franco and our friends at Blue underground. Cecilia didn’t ‘do it’ for me, but I’m sure Francophiles will be in hog heaven thanks to a well groomed video presentation and another titillating interview with everyone’s favourite dirty grandpa. Until next time, we exploitation fans wait with baited breath for the next immaculate reconstruction of a less then immaculate Euro-trash import.


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