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Friday, August 13, 2010

JOY & JOAN -- DVD review by porfle


Where 1983's softcore sex romp JOY left off, JOY & JOAN (1985) picks up and continues with the life story of a vacuous supermodel (Brigitte Lahaie) whose successful career is overshadowed by a troublesome love life.  This time, after suffering continued setbacks in her relationships with men, Joy decides to try her luck playing on the other team for change.  Will it be a whole new romantic revelation, or just the same old grind with different underwear?

As the story opens, poor Joy is finding it hard to smile during a photo shoot.  Sometimes the life of a supermodel can be so hard!  Her heartthrob and Daddy-figure, Marc (played this time by younger actor Jean-Marc Maurel), blithely refuses to commit to her and is about to flit off to Thailand on a writing assignment.  So Joy cleverly beguiles her other older-guy lover, Bruce (played this time by older actor Pierre Londiche) into taking her there, too.  But the terminally smitten Bruce has a few perverse plans for Joy up his sleeve (among other areas) and, while staying at the luxurious villa of the creepy Prince Cornelius, things begin to get so strange that Joy is forced to flee in order to preserve her...virtue?

Stranded in Thailand without any money or champagne, Joy meets a lovely and vivacious young woman named Joan (Isabelle Solar) who divides her time between being a tour guide and conning rich old men out of their money.  Joan falls head over heels for Joy and they start making out like a couple of girl rabbits.  Things go well for awhile, but after a traumatic S&M gangbang in a dank grotto in the Philippines, Joy finds her way back to France alone.  Will Joan be able to find her again and rekindle their romance?  And what about Marc?  Will Joy be okay?


JOY & JOAN has all the slick production values of the original film but is more creatively shot and edited, with a story that actually manages to be interesting from time to time.  The travelogue elements are fine as Joy finds herself amidst some beautiful locations in Thailand and the Philippines, particularly during some stunningly-photographed beach idylls and a sightseeing tour through the waterways of Singapore. 

The first half of the film is the best, as Bruce's weird side emerges when they arrive at Cornelius' palatial estate and meet the man himself, a quivering little troll who openly lusts after Joy.  Bruce goes all out to celebrate her birthday, inviting a crowd of formally-attired pervs to queue up and take a Joy-ride after the naughty voyeur has drugged her drink and laid her out on a huge chaise lounge under the stars.  This tastefully bizarre and delightfully strange sequence is like something a more restrained Ken Russell might cook up, especially when a mock orchestra and portly opera singer start mimicking a recording of "Madame Butterfly" while Cornelius giddily hops around in a bandleader outfit and baton. 

When Joy finally gets away from Bruce with the help of his exotic Malaysian slave girl Millarca (after a tender lesbian interlude, natch), her encounter with Joan leads to several steamy erotic sequences which take place in beds, beaches, trains, and just about any other location with a horizontal surface.  The story rolls lazily along at this point but never really grinds to a halt, and, after the bad business in that grotto, relocates back to Paris for a fairly interesting resolution in which Marc gets back into the act. 


While she has a lot of loyal fans, I think Brigitte Lahaie lacks charisma and due to her often sluggish performance the character of Joy seems more vapid than ever.  However, this shouldn't matter very much to those interested in seeing her naked, because she and the other female leads spend a great deal of time shucking their clothes and making out with each other in classic soft-porn style.  When she isn't going one-on-one with Joan or Millarca, Joy sometimes finds herself akin to an amusement park ride that everyone wants a turn on, and it isn't always consensual--one of the drawbacks of being dangerously irresistible. 

The rest of the cast carry their weight and a few of them stand out.  As the pathetic Prince Cornelius, Jacques Bryland ultimately manages to give an unexpected depth to his almost farcical character as he pines for Joy from afar and ends up chasing her across continents.  Maria Isabel Lopez also makes an impression as the melancholy slave girl Millarca, who helps Joy escape from her master's clutches.  Isabelle Solar makes an appealing but not all that exciting Joan, while Jean-Marc Maurel is carefree roguishness personified as the happily faithless Marc.

The DVD from Severin Films is 1.85:1 widescreen with a Dolby 2.0 French soundtrack and English subtitles.  No extras.

Definitely more substantial storywise than its predecessor, JOY & JOAN is still pretty lightweight drama.  However, it makes up for this with some nice visuals, offbeat scenes, exotic scenery, attractive stars, and lots and lots of nudity and sex.  For this kind of film, you probably can't ask for much more than that.


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1 comment:

Andrew Green said...

Could you get any higher quality than this one?
I think the answer is an emphatic YES.