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  Aphrodite Players Of Games
Year: 1982
Director: Robert Fuest
Stars: Horst Buchholz, Valérie Kaprisky, Delia Boccardo, Capucine, Catherine Jourdan, Yves Massard, Daniel Beretta, Paolo Baroni, Monica Nickel, Carmelo Petix, Vanessa Weill, Lydia Dalbret, Nicole Norden
Genre: Drama, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Innocent Pauline (Valérie Kaprisky) is on a yacht in 1914, headed towards a Greek island owned by Harry Laird (Horst Buchholz), a rich weapons manufacturer who has a big event planned for his guests, of which she is but one. She is travelling with her aunt, the Lady Suzanne (Capucine), and she won't reveal to her what the businessman has in mind either, although the theme of the next few days is a form of escapism. That night, as they are still on the yacht, Pauline undresses in her cabin and washes herself before going to bed, unaware that Harry is watching her through the trick mirror on the wall - but will she be further drawn into his web of debauchery?

Possibly the most interesting thing about this film, apart from the sight of Valérie Kaprisky without her clothes on, was that it was directed by Robert Fuest. He was a British director who had made his name with a string of cult movies, often stylistically impressive horrors, which had a touch of wild-eyed class about them, so what was he doing in this, his final film before resorting to television for the remainder of his career? Making about ninety minutes of softcore porn, that's what, although in some of the frequent love scenes the depiction often veered closely to hardcore, not that the main actors had much to do with those inserted shots.

It's possible to see some of Fuest's old style here, as it walks a fine line between the outright absurd and the commendably straight faced in the midst of all that daftness, but there were no fantastical elements to be seen, in spite of the characters taking on the personalities of Ancient Gods and figures from thousands of years of history past. Naturally this is supposed to be viewed as stirring and racy stuff, with someone in a kit off situation every five minutes, but it also has pretentions to social comment in that these are the idle rich we are watching, the kind of people who brought us into the First World War which is looming over events, although not so much that it gets in the way of the sex.

Once they are on the island, the guests learn from Harry what they are meant to be doing there for the next three days to pass the time, and that is play games. Yes, break out the Monopoly and Scrabble - oh, no, it's not even naked Twister, it's role playing that leads to inevitable coupling between those in attendance, although Pauline is reluctant to get involved in this sustained bout of decadence and spends the rest of the film as an observer until she is almost coaxed into an orgy at the finale. But not quite, as Mme Kaprisky obviously had it stipulated in her contract that no way was she simulating anything sexual, so her fans had to make do with that extended item of nudity in the opening ten minutes.

As if recognising that their leading lady was letting them down to some extent, the filmmakers made up for it in other ways, those other ways being that just about everyone else indulges in the sauciness. So we get the uptight lady who is introduced to the pleasures of lesbianism, and some rather cheapening, almost irrelevant shots of non-essential characters who apprently turned up for acts that the thesps refused to do. Meanwhile, there's an espionage subplot in that one of the guests is trying to work out what Harry has up his sleeve business-wise, and ends up playing with model trains to that end, but in spite of Fuest's attempts to include something striking that isn't sexual, it doesn't really work out that way and any exertions towards elegance or resonance with world events falls away at the first hint of a gown hitting the floor. It's basically a toga party with ideas above its station. Music by Jean-Pierre Stora.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Robert Fuest  (1927 - 2012)

British director, writer and production designer who got his start designing The Avengers. He went on to direct episodes, which led to a run of cult movies in the early 70s: Wuthering Heights, And Soon The Darkness, The Abominable Dr Phibes, Dr Phibes Rises Again, The Final Programme and The Devil's Rain. After that, he returned to television aside from the soft porn effort Aphrodite.

 
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