FELICITY (1978)

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As censorship relaxed in the late 1960s and through the 1970s, enterprising filmmakers everywhere took advantage of emerging international markets and a new period in cinematic hucksterism was created.  For some countries like Italy, an entire industry sprang up making ‘homages’ (that’d be rip-offs) and unofficial sequels to the big (usually American) hits of the day. Ramp up the violence, sex and gore, frequently give it a lurid title and then sell it everywhere. 

Perhaps never quite as graphic as their European peers, Australian writers and directors still gave it a good shot.  ‘Ozploitation’ has become a grouping term for all kinds of films from that period that took their movies global.  Films like Mad Max are still very popular today but there’s much more to the output of the time than Mel Gibson’s classic.  Which brings us to Felicity from 1978. 

A few years earlier the notorious French soft core film Emmanuelle had been a big international hit.  Following a brief period where widely released hardcore films like Behind the Green Door almost ushered in mainstream legitimacy for pornography, these types of softly shot skin flicks had become popular too.

Following Emmanuelle's template, Felicity tells the story of a young woman at a Catholic boarding school determined to explore her sexuality.  Felicity gets the opportunity to do just that when her father arranges for a trip to Hong Kong.  Here she meets various people who introduce her to physical pleasure, before she falls in love with Miles. 

From the outset it leaves nothing to the imagination.  Writer and director John Lamond seems to be going through a smut checklist: fantasy lesbianism, voyeurism, a sauna scene, Catholic schoolgirls in short skirts, and so on.  It’s difficult to criticise any of the filmmaking, as Lamond knows how to shoot a film professionally. 

As writer he adds Felicity’s inner monologue, reaching for a The Story of O attempt at giving all this nonsense some depth.  And that’s what it is of course.  Nonsense to hang lots of nudity and sex scenes on.  Arriving with regularity, it’s what the film is all about and in that respect it's perhaps commendable that Lamond shows no real pretence at making anything other than a sexploitation film.  

It’s very much a product of its time, hiding behind a veneer of exploring a liberated woman’s sexual life and seriously dubious gender politics to put as many female body parts on screen as possible.  You’re unlikely to find it erotic, more likely boring, and you’ll probably find yourself utterly desensitised to nudity by the end of it, having been hit with a sledgehammer besiegement of boobs and bums.

Having said that, as a piece of film history and specifically the development of Ozploitation it has its place and if you’re interested in that side of things, our rating reflects that.  Just don’t play a ‘every time there’s a nipple on screen have a swig’ drinking game, you’ll be in a drunken stupor inside the first 15 minutes.

FELICITY / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENWRITER: JOHN D. LAMOND / STARRING: GLORY ANNEN, MARILYN ROGERS, JONI FLYNN, CHRISTOPHER MILNE, JODY HANSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
 


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