25 August 2007 | Nodriesrespect
Cry Uncle !
Late carnal critic and "acclaimed adult filmmaker" Jim Holliday was fond of describing JUSTINE as "a poor man's SCENT OF HEATHER" and, as usually, he was not altogether wrong in his assessment. Released hot on the heels of Bill Milling's relatively lavish period epic, the similarities between the two are a bit too obvious as to be considered entirely coincidental. This variation from the reliable Roberta Findlay (who ground them out hard 'n' fast yet still maintained an impressive amount of quality, as evidenced by genre classics such as ANGEL #9 and THE TIFFANY MINX) may be set in the present day but still operates on a Mills & Boon level of convent-bred virgins and star-crossed lovers.
Naive Justine (surprisingly well-played by underrated Hillary Summers, one of very few adult actresses able to project innocence without coming across like a retard) bids her goodbye to the nuns to go and live with her recently deceased dad's estranged brother Steven, a convincing performance by habitual second banana Ashley Moore in what probably constitutes his finest work next to his memorable turn in Findlay's PLAYGIRL. Disillusioned since his faithless wife (the always interesting Linda Vale) left him, Uncle Steven moves from one female honey pot to the next with only equally cynical mistress Vanessa Del Rio (looking absolutely resplendent by the way) for semi-constant companionship. A lengthy sexual episode finds him picking up a pair of inebriated stewardesses (lookalikes Merle Michaels and Christie Ford) and taking them to a live sex show featuring the likes of Beth Anna and Christine DeShaffer. The man's emotional aloofness is hard on his son (one shot Andy Hayes) who seeks solace with the "wrong kind" of friends, pioneering punkette Robin Sane (Carter Stevens' saucy secretary in Howard Winters' exceptional PLATINUM PARADISE) and handsome Rick Iverson (star of THE LOVE-IN ARRANGEMENT), who definitely provide the right kind of sex with a sizzling double penetration of the rarest kind, i.e. two poles in a single hole ! There's also a slow-witted if perpetually randy gardener (Dave Ruby, the Al Bundy of porn) who's usually kept out of trouble by the household's scheming maid Marlene Monroe, the wicked stepmother from Fred Lincoln's SERENA, and they share one of the hottest scenes in the movie. Fending off the advances of all available men, Justine naturally longs for the one who seems least interested, Uncle Steven.
Pulling out all the stops production-wise, as befitting a movie from the Golden Age mid-section, JUSTINE rises above occasional narrative sluggishness with glowing cinematography by Findlay herself, assuming the capacity under her "Anna Riva" name from the sexploitation days, splicing in footage from Paris landmarks like the Arch of Triumph from stock for additional gloss. Equally befitting, there also happens to be a syrupy title song, of course. The acting, when called for, is generally competent though the delectable Del Rio is rather unceremoniously discarded after her scalding bathroom bit with Moore. No matter how hard she tries, simpering Summers the fault lies with the writing, not her acting can't make up for the untimely departure of this magnificent lady from progressively pathetic proceedings.