Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cecilia (Jess Franco, 1982)

The lush, dewy landscape of Sintra, Portugal provides the backdrop for one of the steamiest journeys into the forbidden realm of strappy heeled eroticism that I have ever seen. Wow. I had no idea you had seen that much strappy heeled eroticism; so much so, that you're able to elevate certain cinematic works to heightened levels of loftiness based solely on their ability to induce a generous helping of steam. It's true, I haven't; seen enough films that feature strappy heels in a lush and/or dewy setting to be able to confidently single out its many steam-based blessings. However, if I had, I'm sure Jess Franco's Cecilia (a.k.a. Aberraciones Sexuales de una Mujer Casada) would be near the top of the list, as this film oozes verdancy and legginess simultaneously. The former is provided by the aforementioned location, which is exploited to the point where the film could be classified a weird form of botanical pornography (people who love plant life, and the natural world in general, will adore the many close-up shots of overgrown greenery and blooming flowers). And, of course, the latter is supplied by the many pairs of strappy heels worn throughout the film, as the heels–the strappier, the better–intensify the innate beauty of the legs they're attached to. In reality, though, the gorgeous Muriel Montossé doesn't really need to have any of her curves exaggerated, as she's a work of curvy art all on her own. Piercing the humid air of her ornate surroundings with a crotch altering aplomb, Cecilia wants to feel everything the world has to offer when it comes to oblique objects rubbing up against her supple flesh. Whether it be fresh cut flowers, lily pads, troglodytic low-lifes, garter belts, or drunken bar patrons, Cecilia needs to feel their touch on a regular basis. Without it, well, you'll be looking at one unhappy camper. Which reminds me. If Cecilia were to go on a camping trip, all she would need to survive is her insatiable desire to be groped and a pair of strappy heels. If you think I'm joking, listen to what one of the rapists utters as he and his not-so merry band of fellow rapists are chasing Cecilia through the forest in the latter half of the film. He says something to the effect of: "How is she able to run so fast in high heels?"
Oh, stupid rapist. Your need to violate the personal space of others has obviously warped your ability to think objectively. Anyone with any sense can clearly see that Cecilia has been running in strappy high heels for most of her life. It doesn't matter if she's sleeping, swimming, bathing, horse back riding, seducing monobrowed chauffeurs, or fleeing the grabbing hands of undesirable creatures like you, the thickness of Cecilia's calves are always in the process of being accentuated to the point of shapely madness by a pair of strappy high heels.
The sight of flowers blooming and trees swaying in the wind set to the sound of birds chirping and synths...synthing, can mean only one thing: a Jess Franco film is about to commence. And I don't need to tell you that the words "A Jess Franco Film" are one of the few things left that bring me joy in this world. Whenever I see his name, or, as is in most cases, one of his many pseudonyms, appear on-screen, a wave of comfort washes over me, as I know my brain and genitals are in the hands of a master. Zooming in on the breathtaking beauty of the film's natural splendour for an extended period of time, when suddenly, shots of statues begin to enter the frame. Was this Jess Franco's way of informing us that humanity (the ones who made the statues) and nature (the ones who made the flowers and trees) co-exist with one another?  Who knows. What I do know is that we're about to meet Cecilia (Muriel Montossé) and I can hardly contain my excitement.
Wearing a pink dress, the kind that looks like it was specifically designed to be pulled off in a hurry, Cecilia runs towards her limousine, greets her driver Kam (José Valero), and proceeds to get in the back. And wouldn't you know, Cecilia, after putting up the divider window, takes off her pink dress like it weren't even there. Lounging in a position that was clearly chosen to maximize her innate legginess, Cecilia caresses the contours of her legs in an erotic manner. In order to indicate how long Cece's legs are, more hair is added to Kam's unibrow each time we see it in the rear view mirror. What I'm trying to say is: it takes so long for her to run her hand from one end of her leg to the other, that his eyebrows seem to become thicker and bushier between each leg stroke. And as far as using irregular eyebrow hair to signify leg length, I thought the scene was an unequivocal success.

Realizing that Kam is taking her away from her house (he's supposed to be driving her home), Cecilia makes her objection known. But it's too late, Kam tells her that he's quitting, stops the car, and let's his brothers (who were lurking in the woods) ravish her in the back seat. Struggling at first, Cecilia seems to be moaning with pleasure by the time the partially clothed humping  starts. After washing the sex smell from her body in a pond covered with lily pads, Cecilia drives the limousine (remember, her driver quit) back to the spacious mansion she shares with her husband Andre (Antonio Mayans) and their male staff (who all wear headbands for some reason). The scene where Cecelia gets out the limo completely naked, except, of course, for a pair of pink strappy heels, is important because it gives us our first view of Muriel Montossé standing upright without any clothes on.
Making her way towards the house, the sight of Muriel walking in nothing but strappy heels was simply glorious. Seriously, the manner in which her sturdy legs pounded against the crude concrete walkway was unreal. As she was walking, I couldn't help but notice that each step caused her ample backside to undulate in a way that was both pleasing and awe-inspiring. Now, given the thundering display we just witnessed, I found it a tad strange that Andre felt it necessary to carry Cecilia the rest of the way. I mean, didn't he just see the calve-tightening clinic that just transpired before him on the walkway? Either way, Andre carries Cecilia inside, puts her on the bed, and, after disrobing, places the quivering contents located on the other side of his hirsute hindquarters between her creamy thighs.
The next morning, Andre is upset when he finds out what Kam's brothers did to his wife in the backseat of his limo. Out on a terrace overlooking their magnificent garden, Cecilia paces back and forth while she listens to Andre complain about her whorish lifestyle. Wearing a conical hat, a black and white Asian-style shirt dress, and a pair of white strappy heels (the perfect ensemble for pacing in a mist-laden paradise as a saxophone gently toots in the background), Cecilia tries to explain that she needs to have rough sex with other men. (Did anyone else notice that her pink lipstick matched the petunias?)
It should be noted that a flashback to when Cecilia and Andre first met two years ago at a Parisian party occurs during a lull in the their conversation on the terrace. Sure, it doesn't give us any fresh insight into the genesis of their relationship–they're introduced by her uncle (Olivier Mathot) and an attractive woman in orange (France Lomay), and appear to like each other almost immediately–but we do get to see the largeness of Muriel Montossé's bum ensnared in a slit-heavy black and white dress.
Judging by the way Andre snubs Cecilia after they return from horseback riding, it would that he's still upset over the backseat limo rape. Determined to convince her husband that sex is different than love, she concocts a cheeky scheme involving her friend Antonio (Antonio de Cabo), an older gentlemen Cecilia calls her "grandmother," and Antonio's unnamed girlfriend (Ana Paula), an afro-sporting goddess with Uhurian thighs. The idea is for Antonio's girl to seduce Andre while Cecilia is putting her "grandmother" to bed. And you know Cecilia means business by the fact that she's wearing a blonde bob wig and has sprinkled glitter all over his chest and shoulders. Anyway, deliberately catching them in the act, Cecilia, who is still rocking the pink lipstick (her fingernails, by the way, are pink as well), shows up naked at their door and eventually takes over for Antonio's girlfriend as the primary source for Andre's corporal pleasure (her white strappy heeled feet kick the air like an agitated mule as he bombards her pelvic area with a generous helping of tempur pedict thrusts).
Starting off the film as merely his wife, Cecilia is now Andre's mistress and confidante. Yep, it appears that her plan has worked, as she finds that Andre is getting into this whole open marriage thing. A close up shot of a lump-free crotch encased in a pair of white bikini bottoms can only mean one thing, it's time for Lina Romay make her presence felt in the Cecilia universe. Sunning herself on the deck of a sail boat, Lina plays a cabaret performer whose act involves having sex with her teenage son. Lying motionless as the sun's rays pierce her exquisite curves, Lina half listens to Cecilia (whose stunning frame is sheathed in a black one-piece bathing suit) and Andre as they blather on and on about their relationship ("our love will only grow stronger").
When they're back on dry land, Lina and her son George (Antonio Vasco) give Cecilia, Andre, Antonio, and Antonio's girlfriend a sneak preview of their incestuous stage show. Swaying her hips in a pink full length gown as she stands before her son (whose eyelids, by the way, have been painted with dots that make him look like his eyes are open when they are in fact closed), Lina proceeds to suck his thumb as some dude wearing a blindfold plays a rudimentary harp. Eventually working her way down to his penis (removing her clothing along the way), Lina ends the show by writhing naked on the shag carpeting. Which, in case you don't know, is her subtle way inviting the audience, which, of course, includes Cecilia, who's wearing a leopard print headband, to mock feast on the moist folds of her well-rounded flesh.
Fans of France Lomay (Oasis of the Zombies) will want to stick around for the swanky party scene that takes place at the exact same location where Cecilia and Andre first met. Why? Well, if you loved the sight of France schmoozing in an orange dress, you'll definitely want to see her schmooze in a pink dress. This particular party scene, the one where France wears a pink dress, is also worth checking out for the moment when an author tells a group of hangers-on that her novel "Neither Virgin nor Martyr" was inspired by her first abortion.
You can't help but be impressed by Muriel Montossé as the titular Cecilia, as every gesture she makes is steeped in eroticism. This movement themed saturation hits its boiling point when she finds herself all alone in the house. When smelling flowers in nothing but strappy heels starts to lose its appeal, she takes a bath. While staring out the window in a nightie and a pair of, it should, by now, go without saying, strappy heels, the phone rings. It's Andre, and apparently he's going to be busy for the next couple of days. How much longer do you expect Cecilia to wander the corridors of her spacious mansion? Are you asking me? If you are, I have to say, I could watch Muriel Montossé do pretty much anything for an inordinate amount of time.
Tired of waiting for her waiting for her husband to come home, Cecilia decides that she needs some cock. Who am I kidding? She needs lots of cock, and finds it waiting for her at a cave-like structure where Kam's brothers hang out. The first thing that shocked me about this scene, which we'll call, "Cecilia's Impromptu Cave Gangbang," was that she wore black pumps for the occasion. That's right, she's put the strappy heels away. I guess she figured that the strappy heels wouldn't really go with her black stockings (wrong as she may be, I respect her decision). At any rate, she gets up on the table, and removes her ruffled prom dress to reveal a black garter belt, which is digging into her child-bearing hips like you wouldn't believe. Kicking away her dress in an authoritative manner, Cecilia invites Kam's two brothers and their two friends have their way with her.
Satisfied by how the gangbang turned out, Cecilia decides to treat herself by going horseback riding on the beach. Whoa! I'm no gynecologist, but horseback riding, especially naked horseback riding, is the last activity I'd recommend to someone who has just participated in a gangbang. In her defense, it was the early 1980s. What does that mean? Well, most people back then lacked, what I like to call, "crotch cognizance," a state of mind where you are always aware of what your genitals, and, I guess, you could include your anus in this specific mindset, are up to at any given moment.
Trees, flowers, synths, strappy heels, black stockings (worn with black pumps), and Muriel Montossé, that's all I really need when it comes to cinema. And, as it turns out, Jess Franco's Cecilia was able to provide all of them in equal measure; well, more black stockings would have nice, but I digress. Now, I don't usually express the desire to go anywhere–you know as far as travelling the world goes. However, Sintra, Portugal is a little different in that regard, as it seemed to capture my imagination. Which is a rare occurrence. I mean, most films leave me feeling a sense of shame; like, why did I just watch that? But this film was like receiving a tonic, one that not only promoted the power of love, but seems to enrich the lives of everyone who happens to find themselves under its unsavoury spell.

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  1. I love this blog.

    Thank you for all the work you do.

    I'm hoping you'll post a review for "Vampiros Lesbos" or Rollin's "Shivers of the Vampire" in the future. Two films I'm sure you'd enjoy. And please watch "Female Prisoner Scorpion" soon. You won't be disappointed.

  2. Thanks.

    I've seen Vampyros Lesbos... but that was a long time ago. In other words, I would love to see it again with fresh new eyes. (I've watched eleven Jess Franco films so far this year.) As for Shivers of the Vampire... that sounds promising.

    Oh, and I haven't forgotten about Female Prisoner Scorpion (I have a copy of it waiting to be watched). But thanks for the reminder. :)

  3. I dig your blog, too. :D

    "A Short History of Canada" is a great read. I'm on the chapter about the Lower Provinces.

    I missed the "Acadia" response in the "Canada's Maritime Provinces" category on Jeopardy! a few nights back. *hangs head in shame*

  4. Thanks for the dig, K.A. :)

    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was signed thirty years ago this week.

    If you're hanging in your head in shame, what the hell should I do with my head? 'Cause, man, did I ever blow that one. (I did, however, love Alex's pronunciation of "Acadie.")

  5. "Well, most people back then lacked, what I like to call, "crotch cognizance," a state of mind where you are always aware of what your genitals, and, I guess, you could include your anus in this specific mindset, are up to at any given moment."
    Too bad people today think way too much about that