Justine (aka Cruel Passion) DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee Pattee
DVD released by Salvation
So, in practice, seek out depravity. – Juliette
Directed by Chris Boger
Written by Ian Cullen (based on the Marquis de Sade's "Justine")
1977, Region 0 (PAL), 94 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on March 26th, 2007
Koo Stark as Justine Jerome
Martin Potter as Lord Carlisle
Lydia Lisle as Juliette Jerome
Katherine Kath as Mme Laronde
Hope Jackman as Mrs. Bonny
Maggie Petersen as Mother Superior
Barry McGinn as George
Louis Ife as Pastor John
Poor Justine. All she wants to do is live a good, Christian lifestyle, free of such dirty things as sex and temptation.
She seems to be on the righteous path, living in a nunnery, destined to do God's work. But after a rousing sex scandal involving her, her sister Juliette and two nuns (including Mother Superior!), Justine and Juliette leave the convent and head to the big city of London to see what they can make of their lives.
Fortunately, they have an aunt in London who is willing to put them up. In her brothel. Juliette quickly adjusts to the life of a lady of the night, but Miss Goody Two Shoes Justine runs away from the cat house, escaping with her virginity intact.
She ends up back at the convent, where Pastor John welcomes her back with open arms. Maybe a little too open.
Justine might have thought coming back to the convent was the end of her journey, but she hasn't even started.
At first glance, Justine appears to be your run of the mill nunsploitation flick. Hell, within the first couple minutes, you have some lesbian nun on nun action, so that is seemingly a dead giveaway.
But what surprised me is it actually had a thoughtful story between the sex and debauchery. I'm quite sure much of this has to do with the source material, but director Chris Boger didn't make the movie about sex for sex's sake. Sure, there is sex in the film and, sure, it doesn't necessarily need to be in it, but this is exploitation, after all, and Boger still managed to put some thought into it.
The question throughout the film is obvious. Is living a celibate, God-fearing life worth it, when you can have oh, so much fun living life fancy free.
On one hand, you have Justine (played wonderfully by Koo Stark, who really does look the naive and innocent part) wanting nothing to do with the evils of promiscuous sex and the things that go with it.
On the other, you have her sister, Juliette (Lydia Lisle), who wants nothing to do with the good life. Her actual goal in life is to become a prostitute and find a Lord to take care of her. Just not the Lord. Lydia Lisle complements Stark's Justine perfectly. Juliette is night to Justine's day, and both actresses were fantastic to watch when they were on screen at the same time, debating God and virtue.
Admittedly, the message to have fun while you can and screw innocence (no pun intended) is loud and clear. But many valid points are raised, most by Juliette. One in particular struck me as amusing, and true. At one point, she tells Justine that while men say they want a virgin, "…they value their enjoyment more than anything." And it's lines like these that certainly give a good argument to live and let live.
In addition, it seems as if Justine's life, or the way she wants to live it, does nothing more than get her into one pickle after another. And no matter what the predicament, there's a man there ready to take her virginity. If there's one thing for certain in Justine, no man is noble, and they all want sex.
The ending is surprisingly tragic. Having never seen Justine in any of its incarnations in film over the years, nor read the book, I didn't see it coming and was a little saddened by it. While one person gets what's coming to them, another is just a hapless victim.
But, hey, we're talking about something based on what Marquis de Sade wrote. What do you expect?
Video and Audio:
Justine's 1.78:1 presentation is shaky, at best. There is an incredible amount of print damage throughout, the picture is soft and the colors are muted, which is a damn shame, as the brothel scenes would have benefited from a good restoration. But it's hard for me to fault Redemption too much, as I don't know how much restoration was done in the first place. And, honestly, this film is lucky to see DVD.
The 2.0 soundtrack is passable, if a little hollow. This isn't an action flick, or horror flick, so the dialogue is what's important, and it comes through with no issues.
- Extensive Stills Gallery
- Redemption Trailers
- Key Art
There about 25 pictures in the still gallery, and the key art looks to be either a short magazine article, or a three-page advertisement.
The offered trailers, Requiem for a Vampire and Les Demoniaques, look to be a lot of fun.
Redemption has also placed a catalogue of their various wares (posters, music, movies, etc.) on the DVD, with instructions on how to order. It's not intrusive at all, and I actually had fun going through it.
Justine is not the best exploitation flick out there. But it is surprisingly thoughtful, and not a waste of an hour and a half by any means. Sure, you can find something a lot deeper than this film, but really, will it have lesbian nun on nun action? I think not.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, Sony DVP-CX875P DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)
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