The first three “Emmanuelle” productions are distinctive in their visual style and tone, and endure as examples of the erotic film during key moments of censorial permissiveness. Where the first put the erotic genre in mainstream cinema houses (and made it chic and acceptable to see full frontal nudity & naughtiness beyond the porno realm), the second was forced to straddle the softcore border when hardcore productions like “Deep Throat” raised the shock value.
After a rather unsuccessful time in Hollywood, Kristel's selection of roles pretty much revolved around being a babe, and the actress admits in the featurette, “The Joys of Emmanuelle Part 3,” her later choices merely offered income to support her painting career during lean periods. Unlike similar actors inadvertently obliged to act in sequels, Kristel was lucky in two areas: director/co-writer Francois Leterrier wanted to focus on Emmanuelle's marriage, in what's become a tiring, corrupted love affair with her husband (reprised by Umberto Orsini); and producer Yves Rousset-Rouard wanted to end the series, after three films (since that's what Kristel originally signed up for).
“Good-bye Emmanuelle” is surprisingly engaging, benefiting from a decent script that lessens the usual sexological-babble and vacuous free-love philosophy of the latter installments, and deals with the disintegration of several marriages that have been largely shored up by their selfish, priapic husbands. The exploits of the previous films have also left scars on Emmanuelle and her husband, and that's pretty much what the film subtly explores; bodies still frolic in their birthday-suit glory, but each episodic sexual escapade is dramatically functional.
The longest of the three “Emmanuelle” films is also the best-paced; lingering less on the details of idle-rich whoopee, and offering some well-structured dramatic turns that ultimately lead to a rather bittersweet farewell from series star Kristel. Anchor Bay's transfer is gorgeous; the in-car dialogue scenes use really obvious rear-projection, but the location work is first-rate. Jean Badal's widescreen cinematography embraces the colours of the tropical Seychelles, and avoids colours and patterns that would normally date the film. There's many beautiful compositions that are happily allowed to linger, and Serge Gainsbourg's pop score is restrained in its synthetic instruments; rarely heard throughout the film, the lack of wall-to-wall music leaves room for the functional dialogue and seaside sound effects.
“The Joys of Emmanuelle Part 3” featurette covers the end of the series (a fourth film had Kristel reprise her character, and undergo plastic surgery in Brazil, so a new/younger Emmanuelle could continue the franchise. The actress also appeared as hostess in several direct-to-video entries); the many imitators that amazingly avoided lawsuits by dropping one “m” from the titular character (hence the degenerative Laura Gemser series); and what Just Jaekin and Kristel are up to today, after being involved with such an iconic series. (The answers are happily positive).
This title is available in "The Emmanuelle Collection" boxed set (DV12157), with "Emmanuelle," "Emmanuelle 2," and "Good-bye Emmanuelle," and an 8-page colour booklet, featuring an essay by Gary Hertz.
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan
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