OK. I’m not going to lie. I’ve said it on Twitter and I’ll say it again here: this one nearly did me in. This is probably the fifth time I’ve restarted writing about Emmanuelle: Sexual Spells and I am determined to make it the one that sticks because I desperately want to move on and finish the Vermeer era.
Why did Sexual Spells nearly do me in? Why was this one in particular the one that caused me the most sweats so far (and not in a YE GODS THIS IS SEXY kind of way)? Because, my friends, this is the one where The Private Collection just goes off the rails and stops even remotely trying. To make sense. To have a coherent plot. To even have Emmanuelle as someone who actively participates in that plot.
This is Sexual Spells. Buckle up, motherfuckers, and let’s ride this pony home.
Sexual Spells (2004)
Directed by: Jean-Jacques Lamore
As Emmanuelle: Natasja Vermeer
Also with: Valerie Baber, Matt Wilde, Stasia Glenlove, Rife Urquhart, and others
The plot, in short
Emmanuelle’s friend Marco Giovanni, a famous bestselling erotic novelist, is working on his next story – one which comes to involve his young assistant Jen, who seeks his advice about a rather peculiar sounding job. Meawhile, the spirit of Love turns up and guides Emmanuelle towards more wisdom.
So, let’s take this premise and divide it by plot strands.
As we know by now, Emmanuelle is a wise woman of the world with many friends (most of them looking peculiarly like each other). One of her friends is a bestselling erotica writer named Marco, who we meet as he’s having a poolside chat with Emmanuelle and quizzes her about a couple they both know – he’d very much like to incorporate them and what’s going on in their love life into his next story. Libel be damned.
At the outset, it’s Emmanuelle who seems likely to be Marco’s conquest – sure enough, he seems to be into her and it does look like them in one of the first big love scenes (Emmanuelle is definitely involved but, if I’m honest, the camera work is so pish-poor, I can’t actually deduce if it’s him or not). But the real object of his blossoming affection turns out to be Marco’s young assistant, Jen.
Jen comes to Marco in need of a bit of advice: she’s seen an ad in the paper for an escort-type job (an advert stating that there won’t be sex involved) and, while certainly interested, she wants to know what he thinks.
The bond between Marco and Jen is a bit of an odd one. One half seems to be a desire to protect her, as he writes out what he thinks happens to her on her nights at her other job. The other half is a desire to be with her, a slow burning one that he doesn’t fully realise is there until near the end. By that point, Jen’s gotten a bit too involved with one of her clients, a chap called Nick. And kudos to Matt Wilde, who pitches his portrayal of Nick at the right intersection of charming and complete bastard.
Yes, he manages to charm the ever loving bejesus out of Jen, with his “I must see you again” smoothness and presents and taking Jen to secret sex parties (made up, hilariously, out of Jen looking at Bits of Sexy Stock Footage Inserts) and sort of opening up her world. But the more they get involved, the more the sharpness comes out. Sure, it comes out in a way that won’t get you any acting awards ever, but it comes out at the right time and just enough for you to really hope he gets a grand old soap opera smack in the face at some point.
Spoiler: Marco delivers and does exactly that when he discovers just how much of a cunt Nick’s been to Jen and goes to seek him out. It’s, to put it mildly and despite it being so obviously fake, satisfying.
Anyway, this is a fairly okay plot with one excellent scene in which Nick and Jen have sex near a window, next to a telescope. I’m not surprised Emmanuelle is besties with an erotica writer – although I am pretty entertained by an idea that she could actually be one in a new incarnation.
The Spirit of
Jazz Love and Emmanuelle’s jaunt about town
Oh, holy fuck, would that make more sense than what happens to Emmanuelle in the other plot to this film. Let me ask you this: if you’re presented with a film called Sexual Spells, and you’ve a bit of knowledge about what we’ve seen in previous installments of this series, what would you say is Emmanuelle’s driver in this film? The paranormal linchpin, like Dracula and sexy ghosts before?
If you said witches, then congratulations: you are both on the same page as I was and also completely wrong. Instead, The Spirit of Love appears to Emmanuelle, and decides to take her on a quest for more wisdom.
None of this plot makes a jot of sense. Sure, Stasia Glenlove is a gorgeous embodiment of the character, and they could have gone on a very interesting path with this premise. But they don’t. Instead, we get Love being some kind of invisible fuck whisperer to the earlier mentioned mutual friends of Marco and Emmanuelle, while Emmanuelle watches and gives commitment to the dialogue last seen in both of the Birdemic films. Brilliantly, there’s one scene where Emmanuelle, Jen and Marco are all together and having a chat and Love manifests herself, prompting Emmanuelle to exclaim “Love! What are you doing here?” – which neither Jen nor Marco notice AT ALL. Nor do they notice the conversation between the two that ensues.
It’s a great deal more hilarious than the one thing about this film in particular that pissed me right off. Seriously, in this clusterfuck of continuity that is The Private Collection, it was this particular nugget that caused such a rage in me, ILB had to hold me back from tossing the laptop clean out the window.
Once the Jen and Marco plot is wrapped up and Love says her goodbyes, the last ten minutes of the film start looking peculiarly familiar. You might say it’s giving you a bit of a déjà vu, because certainly you recognise those two women standing beside Emmanuelle’s bed as she sleeps..
And then it hits you. You HAVE seen this before. Because the last ten minutes of this film are also a huge chunk of the last ten minutes of Sex Talk. The only thing missing from it is the bit where Brittany Odell does the closing narration. But the fucking nymphs, David, EVERYTHING ELSE is exactly the same scene. It’s a textbook definition of giving up. Close your eyes and imagine the makers of this film just saying “fuck it, just stick a gazebo on at the end and let’s go to the pub”.
And it’s the same, nymph-filled gazebo. Will Emmanuelle ever find David again? Who the fuck even cares anymore? It’s not like this series does.
Next time – we conveniently skip to the last installment of the series and find out just who this Jesse is and what those secret desires of her are.
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