Sinfonia Erotica - Sinfonia Erotica(Blu Ray/ DVD) [Severin - 2018]From the tail-end of the 1970ís Sinfonia Erotica is one of the more experimental & disorientating films from the king of euro sleaze Jess Franco. The film is a country-house set period drama, fed through with off-kilter & hazy soft-core, weird camera angles/ tricks, and an often jarringly soundtrack that moves from romantic & lush piano-led classical orchestration, onto atonal & discordant unfolds. Here on Severin films is the first-ever release of the film- which can be brought as either a DVD or Blu Ray edition- Iím reviewing the Blu Ray version of the release.
Released in 1979 Sinfonia Erotica starts off innocently enough with Martine de Bressac- played by Franco muse Lina Romay in a blond wig- returning to her country estate in a horse-drawn carriage. Beside her in the carriage is her doctor, and itís made clear that sheís been away suffering some kind of mental breakdown. When Romay leaves the doctors care & steps into the country house things slowly, but surely get stranger, more unbalanced, and frankly unhinged.
Sharing the country house with her is her husband, his gay lover, and fairly soon troubled nun- played by Susan Hemingway, who also turned up in Francoís Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun. The film unfolds in a dreamy-yet-decidedly unbalanced manner- as we get a blend of hazy & often oddly focused erotic scenes, including (for the first & only time in a Franco film) a homosexual encounter. Is she/ isn't she mad drama, murderous plans, and a few fairly unsettling psycho-sexual moments. Romay is really on top form here playing well the troubled lady of the house, Hemingway does an effective turn as innocent-turned-corrupted, and the two actors playing the lord & his lover manage to effectively portray a sense of prevision & menace.
Though the film has an unbalanced & experimental air through, the plot unfolds fairly coherently. The soft-core encounters never overstay their welcome- which canít be said for all Franco films. The use of disorientating camera angles, weird lighting tricks, and in focus-to-out of focus shots is most effective. And these are nicely blended with the unbalancing soundtrack that moves from romantic & lush, to off-angle & sinister- added to this thereís often quite a lot of echo & reverb effects added to some of the dialogue- all of this builds to create such an effective feeling of unease & un-wellness.
Extras wise you donít get a huge amount- but what there is most worthy. Firstly we get twenty-minute featurette from Stephen Thrower about the film, and as weíve come to expect he does a great job- discussing the film, its production, and his thoughts on the film- balancing perfectly informed research, rewarding insight, & sly humor. Next, we get a six-minute video with Franco in 2013- here he gets interviewed regarding his first wife- who worked on Sinfonia Erotica- itís always nice to see Franco interviews, and this gives some interesting insights.
Sinfonia Erotica is certainly a stand-out work in Francoís huge filmography as it really does give an original, depraved & unbalancing twist of the period drama genre. So itís great to see Severin releasing this from itís near lost state- certainly, a must buy for Franco freaks, but also well worth a look for those after 70ís fare thatís flesh-bound, but very unhinged. Roger Batty