Gwendoline (1984)

Now this film leaves me in an odd position, or rather the Australian DVD of it does. Cos it promises English subtitles on the packaging, and, well, damned if I can find them. (Mind you, the packaging also claims the film is the shorter version when it is in fact the uncut one. So.) This reviewer claims they are in fact there, but that he only found them by accident (the usual options don’t work) and couldn’t remember how he got them to work. Dear Big Sky Video: what the fuck? And this is important because, well, I had a feeling this would be one of those films that would work better in a language other than English. And the disc handily includes the original French soundtrack as well as the English dub… but no English subtitles. A problem when, like me, your French isn’t good enough to not need them. Still, I watched it in French anyway, just to see if my theory had been right… which I’m still not sure about, though now that I’ve seen it I can’t imagine it being any better in English. This was Just Jaeckin’s attempt at escaping the softcore ghetto, by making an Indiana Jones-style adventure story with a goodly number of bare tits, and so successful was he that he’s never made another film since then. Odd. Knowing the outline of the story, it actually wasn’t too hard to follow, though I expected a lot more pervy stuff given that it was inspired by John Willie’s comic strip. The last act is pretty fetishy stuff, but not as much as I’d thought. And the violence (particularly the unexpected but of cannibalism) sits uneasily with the generally camp tone of proceedings. There’s some quite remarkable production values in evidence, but that’s not really enough to save it… maybe I’ll try it in English one day, or maybe I’ll even find the subtitles and I might be more engaged when I know what’s going on.

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