Synopsis: Emmanuelle and her architect husband continue their amoral lifestyle in the Seychelles. But when a casual dalliance between her and a film director starts to turn serious her husband shows very traditional signs of jealousy.
Goodbye Emmanuelle 6.75
eyelights: the scenery. the locations. its further exploration of couples dynamics.
eyesores: the lackluster lovemaking scenes. the editing. Serge Gainsbourg’s cheesy music.
“Love is the only thing that interests me.”
‘Goodbye Emmanuelle’ is third and final chapter in the original ‘Emmanuelle‘ trilogy starring Sylvia Kristel. Released in 1977, mere months after the French release of ‘Emmanuelle: L’antivierge‘, it shows us the final step in Emmanuelle’s journey in her open relationship with Jean.
Set in the Seychelles, a set of islands in the Indian Ocean, off of the African continent, it finds Emmanuelle and Jean sharing their swinging lifestyle with a handful of friends – that is, until one day Emmanuelle is taken with Grégory, a young French filmmaker doing some location scouting.
From that point onward, her relationship with Jean begins to devolve. Although he’d always been supportive of her own flings, he suddenly feels jealousy and he tries to keep her from spending time with Grégory. This leads to minor altercations and puts a permanent strain on their relationship.
Frankly, I found ‘Goodbye Emmanuelle’ pretty disappointing. Though it explores relationships in a much more mature way than the previous two films, it’s also the least sexy picture of the lot. And it’s not simply that the subject matter put a damper on the proceedings – not at all.
There are plenty of opportunities to heat things up. In fact, the picture begins with a series of sexual encounters strung together with barely any plot holding them together – to the point of them being meaningless and disposable. There’s literally no effort put in any of them.
For one, all of them are extremely brief; blink and you’d miss most of them. Secondly, they’re all set from the chest up, for both men and women. This already leaves little room for invention, but director François Leternier doesn’t even seem to try, making each scene static and bland.
The only scene worth noting is towards the end, when Emmanuelle and Grégory spend some time making love on the beach, after having spent the day together, getting to know each other. But, even though it’s mildly sexy, it’s repetitive and poorly edited. It’s very déjà vu.
The film’s exploration of the dynamics of couples in open relationships is perhaps the picture’s greatest feature – after its gorgeous locations and lovely panoramas. It was interesting to see how couples dealt with their swinging lifestyles. Unsurprisingly, it mostly worked for the men.
But it didn’t always. In fact, part of Grégory’s backstory is that he’d been in an open relationship with his previous partner and that it ended poorly. So he was no longer interested in that and was wary of being with Emmanuelle for this reason; he expected jealousy to spoil their affair.
Ultimately, the picture has a very downcast vibe, showing open relationships as unsustainable, with one partner always getting hurt, if not both. We even meet an older gentleman whose spouse left him for another man. What seemed like an expression of total freedom in the first film is gone.
Having said this, it also feels like the correct direction to take the series in. In ‘Emmanuelle’, our protagonist is introduced to the lifestyle by her husband. In ‘Emmanuelle: L’antivierge’, they are both enjoying it and introducing a young woman to it. Now, it’s no longer sustainable for them.
It’s run its course.
So, in some ways, this entry is the better one of the trilogy – plot-wise, at least. But it fails because it feels dull and lacks the spirit that imbued the first two. Add to it some monotonous sex scenes and there’s really not much to recommend it. Either go deep or get sexy, but don’t skimp on both.
Frankly, it’s an unfortunate end to Emmanuelle’s story.
Date of viewing: October 15, 2016