I have a confession to make. This post has been sitting in my drafts for the better part of two months. I’ve started it, re-started it and scrunched up the virtual paper so many times. You think Sexual Spells was bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Welcome then, dear reader, to Jesse’s Secret Desires. Schrödinger’s Emmanuelle film. It both is and isn’t one. How, you may ask, is this possible? Let’s find out.
Jesse’s Secret Desires (2006)
AKA: Emmanuelle The Private Collection – Jesse’s Secret Desires
Directed by: Jill Hayworth
As Emmanuelle: Natasja Vermeer
Also with: Beverley Lynne, Sherry Zerwin, Sid Stratton, Josh Henry, Drew Thomas and others
Jesse Lynn Morgan (or Jesse for short) is a high-powered defense lawyer. She’s being plagued by recurring vivid and highly erotic dreams, something which she is seeking counsel from Emmanuelle for. Could the new client she takes on be the ticket to understanding what’s going on? And with a supposedly dangerous ex-client back on the streets, should she be fearing for her safety?
So. Why am I calling this Schrödinger’s Emmanuelle film? Because she is in no way relevant to the plot. yet she is there in brief glimpses. Really, this film is all about Jesse and even though she’s friends with Emmanuelle, Em’s contribution to the plot is minimal.
I’m still not entirely sure whether or not Jesse and Emmanuelle are actually friends. Emmanuelle, whenever she’s in the frame, is seemingly a sort of sex therapist to Jesse, helping her to deduce what those vivid erotic dreams of hers mean. But she’s also a bezzie mate who makes her toast with salmon.
That said, Natasja Vermeer’s time as Emmanuelle does end with a small and kick-ass note of glory. But more on that later on. First…
The case of one Russell Wilson and his missing ex-girlfriend
Jesse has, as mentioned, a few things going on. Aside from the sex dreams she talks through with Emmanuelle, she’s also taken on the case of a man named Russell Wilson. Russell’s ex-girlfriend Anna has gone missing, and he is the prime suspect in the case. Upon meeting each other, he remarks on Jesse’s striking resemblance to Anna. Which is brushed off for the duration of the film but is actually relevant somehow.
Jesse tries her best to prove Russell’s innocence, but it is pretty clear from the get-go that there may be a conflict of interest about to arise. She is fast to admit that she finds Russell attractive, and Russell doesn’t take long to reciprocate the sentiment. But, conflict of interest, so they potter on and interrogate some people who saw Anna just before she vanished.
Including her not-at-all shady sounding friend and some guy whose party she was at, who turn out to be in cahoots together. And shagging. Cherry on top being that the friend in question had some form of involvement with Russell and can’t get over him to the point where she makes Some Guy call her Anna during sex so she can call him Russell.
While Jesse cracks on with Russell’s case, word comes to her that a vengeful ex-client of hers has been released from jail. This naturally worries Jesse, especially after she receives some dead roses at the office. She fears he might come for her, as he threatened with as much in court. Stressful times for Jesse, although she can count on the support of her ex-husband (who is also an attorney of some sort) Slater, and on the… special kind of support Emmanuelle is giving her.
Oh, and let’s not forget her loving boyfriend Jack who is first introduced to us by medium of a phone call to Jesse’s office. In which he makes it very clear that he can see her somehow. And then tells her to pick up the binoculars he left on Jesse’s desk, telling her to look out of her window at a certain house. Because that’s totally a thing someone would do.
Jesse picks up the binoculars and ends up spying on some stock footage of a woman having a rather more explicit masturbation session than Jesse is in her office. This goes on for some time, and is actually kind of hot if you ignore the whole “Jack is a bit full-on” thing. Which later becomes impossible, as the man himself first appears in the flesh after Jesse gets sent a creepy, broken doll. She’s worried it came from her ex-client, he reassures her it was a present from him but one that broke in the mail.
Really, I’m not spoiling anything when I tell you that Jack is so obviously up to no good. The film spells it out for us on several occasions, in not at all subtle ways. And indeed, not only was Jack present on the night Anna disappeared, he also is the person playing mindfuck games with her. Jesse discovers this to her horror, as the ex-client actually turns up at her office to apologise for his deeds, before Jack turns up and is prompted into confessing.
As Slater, Slater’s girlfriend (who is a waitress at the restaurant Russell and Anna were having dinner at on that night) and Russell all come to the same conclusion and rush to Jesse’s aid, it is Emmanuelle who ends up saving Jesse from being raped in the nick of time.
How does she do this? By going on pure instinct and knocking Jack out cold. Kick. Ass.
If you’re wondering where – other than the sex dreams – the paranormal element in this installment is… well, let me attempt to explain. Russell remarks at the start that Jesse looks a lot like Anna. That is because… she is Anna? Psychic link? Visions? Look, I don’t know. I re-watched the ending several times, and I am still none the wiser.
Russell and Jesse end up having sex on her couch, the end, thank you, goodnight.
So, we have come to the end of the Natasja Vermeer era. It was a profoundly strange one, let me tell you. Sex goddesses, Dracula, those fucking nymphs… but what have we actually learned? Well, here are some of the points I raised in the previous entries for this series, along with some end of the series notes.
– Emmanuelle needs character context. A back story. Motivation for her actions.
– If Emmanuelle has got an established best mate, there needs to be something more there than just someone who flaps around with ghost cameras and is a bit dismissive of what their mate is saying while she’s clearly in need of an understanding, listening ear.
– If you want to add an element of the supernatural/sci-fi/paranormal, make sure you actually explain what needs to be explained properly, and not through some vague voice-over bits.
– If Emmanuelle is taking a back seat, still have her involved and developed as much as the central characters. Have her turn up and contribute to the story.
– An actual defined plot with an ending that kind of makes sense would have been good for this one in particular.
– Treat your viewer/reader with respect. Yes, Jack happens to be the bad guy in this situation, but for the love of fuck, he is not Michael Myers. You do not need the horror movie framing screaming at you that HE IS AN EVOL. Subtle evolution of actions and words work much better than a great big flashing neon light.
And because I love a good list… The Private Collection in short:
Favourite one-off character: Brittany Odell in Sex Talk
Favourite quote: from Vs. Dracula
Susan: “What’s he after?”
Susan: “That sucks.”
Favourite Emmanuelle moment: the shot at the start of Sex Lives of Ghosts where she just sort of floats onto her balcony and goes for a naked swim.
Least favourite Emmanuelle moment: “ABIGAIL! WHERE ARE YOU?”
The one we missed out on (for reasons): The Art of Ecstasy, in which (I shit you not) the first TEN MINUTES of the film are ripped from Emmanuelle in Rio.
So, as one era ends, another begins. Join me in a few weeks as we ring in 2017 with the start of the Marcella Walerstein era of Emmanuelle. Chronologically, it doesn’t make any sense, but when did Emmanuelle ever make sense, ey?