Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sinner - Diary of a Nymphomaniac (1973)

This starting to sound very repetitive, but Sinner - Diary of a Nymphomaniac is yet another film by Jess Franco that literary stunned me with it's quality. Made for the same producer as Countess Perverse, another fine movie, this Robert de Nesle production is totally opposite when it comes to atmosphere and concept. Countess Perverse is a stylish, comic-book, sleaze-movie and Sinner is another dark, strongly sexual drama that feels very personal. After the death of Soledad Miranda it seems like Franco changed his viewpoint on filmmaking for a couple of years, the stories got more serious and darker, maybe even more depressing, but also a lot more personal.

I don't want to reveal so much about Sinner and how it begins, but it's a brilliant way to start a movie and sets up for a downbeat story about a young girl's descent into a living hell. Linda (Montserrat Prous) arrives to Alicante from a small village, with ponytails and an innocent, childish dress. She drifts around in town until a man starts to follow her, and it ends with him sexually abusing her in a Ferris wheel! Soon after she ends up as the lover of Countess Anna de Monterey (Anne Libert) and her spirals into a mess of sex and drugs... soon she can't take it anymore and plans a revenge on the man that once raped her...

Sinner feels so modern, so fresh. It feels like one of those French indie movies, very arty, but never loosing it's grip around the exploitation parts of the story. The beginning, especially, is among the best I've seen in a Franco movie. One sequence is a loooong take of a man following Linda, handheld camera, in the middle of the unsuspecting crowds. It ends in the Ferris wheel and a beautiful edited sequence that shows nothing - but tells it all. Its rare, I think, to see a morality tale from Uncle Jess, but here it is - the dangers of sex and drugs, without getting annoying or stupid. It's just Franco's way to tell this kind of story.

There's a lot of nudity and sex in Sinner, which doesn't come as a surprise, but I must say that the most impressive thing is the fine performances Franco gotten from his actors this time. It's easy to sleep yourself through a sexploitation movie, but everyone from Montserrat Prous as Linda to Howard Vernon in a very edgy performance as a sleazy hippie-doctor makes very impressive jobs. Manuel Pereiro, who plays the unlucky Mr Ortiz, gives his character some depth and layers, instead of the normal sleazebag any other hack would transform him to.

Sinner is one of those oddities that's hard to set a specific genre on, but I would say it's a dark drama and one of the finest I've seen from Mr Franco. The DVD from Mondo Macabro also makes the glorious cinematography by Gérard Brisseau shine, in all it's brown and yellow shades, very seventies and very "here". It very rarely feels like a movie, more a very intimate documentary about a fucked-up life.

This is another movie that once again proofs the genius and talent of Jess Franco and I urge you all to buy it and support both the legacy of Franco and Mondo Macabro, the distributor. 


Giovanni Susina said...

This is an impressive film from Franco that happens to be my favorite so far. I liked your thoughts on the Ferris wheel scene.

Anonymous said...

"soon she can't take it anymore and plans a revenge on the man that once raped her..."

But would you describe this to be a rape & revenge film..?

"It very rarely feels like a movie, more a very intimate documentary about a fucked-up life."

I guess it´s the Cinéma vérité style that was very popular...and still is in some indie productions.

Havent´seen it...thanks for the tip, ninja.


dfordoom said...

Great movie.

Anonymous said...

Its a great movie. But who is that stunning woman from your cover. Cant quite picture her.