Title: Joy
Director: Sergio Bergonzelli
Notable Cast Members: Claudia Udy, Gérard-Antoine Huart
Year Released: 1983
Version Reviewed: 2010 DVD
Review Date: December 28, 2010
Language: French (with English subtitles)
Rating: Not Rated

The 30 Second Review

In this softcore French film, the eponymous young and restless model tires of hopping from man to man and becomes interested in an older gentleman she meets at a gallery. Unwilling to share him with his other love interest, Joy travels to the United States after a controversial advertisement brings her international fame, and pursues an acting career while becoming interested in the New Age movement. Ultimately, Joy returns to France and her gentleman, only to be separated again after a night of debauchery at a women's fantasy club. Throughout the story, viewers get plenty of outrageous hairstyles, gratuitous nudity, and ample opportunity to exercise a willing suspension of disbelief. This movie is full of the weird and the ridiculous, and struggles to really find direction (although the viewer does find possibly the hardest nipples to ever grace the screen).

The Detailed Review

Each year when my wife asks me to make a list of potential Christmas gifts, I always try to throw in something racy. This year, while perusing the most recent Bud Plant's Incorrigible Catalog, I came across an entry for both Joy and Joy and Joan (Joy et Joan). Fantastic, I thought, this is just what I'm looking for in sleaze. My enthusiasm was wholly based on the fond memories I had of watching Skinemax during the early teenage years, which showed the second of these under the name Joy II. At least in my memories, that movie featured a duo of attractive women frolicking across Southeast Asia with big boobs and little clothing. Having never seen the original, I gleefully added Joy to the list.

Synopsis

The movie begins with a nighttime scene in what appears to be a large country estate. A young girl walks into a fire lit room, and in the process interrupts two adults having sex. I mention this scene specifically because I have no idea why it is in this movie. Seriously. The next scene quickly jumps to an adult Joy, with no explanation forthcoming about the introduction. This is where my grasp of the synopsis really gets shaky. If I understand correctly, the main character is a model who has a steady boyfriend but jumps from man-to-man as the mood strikes her. She is restless, irresponsible with money (as evidenced by a scene in which she tries to get the third advance in a month on her pay), and absolutely fickle. Her social circle consists of other models who host extremely liberal parties (including a scene where a plethora of women stand with legs spread while a man slides between them providing commentary on the view). Throughout the early movie the viewer is treated to what I assumed to be the trendiest New Wave hairstyles, fashions, and decor. Maybe it is just the Anglophile in me, but at no point did I feel any regret for not having been a young, single man in early 1980s France.

At some point, Joy meets an older man at an art gallery (which she is attending with her boyfriend) and they promptly jet off across town in his expensive car. After dropping her off at her apartment, he sticks around on the street while some time is devoted to watching Joy undress and roll around on the bed (Rock. Hard. Nipples.). Finally she invites him up, and in what is clearly a miracle of biology, he is immediately able to bring her to climax without foreplay using only his hand (wrist deep, mind you). Maybe the French have more going for them than I originally gave them credit. The older gentleman then takes off, beginning the second portion of the movie in which Joy cannot decide (Oh, the indecisions of youth!) if she is or is not in love with him. During this time, a truly odd scene occurs in which she takes him to a large house (not her own) in which she reveals a room with a central chair and large home video camera (and I mean large, remember this is the early 1980s). As he is looking around, a trio of men in tuxedos enter. Apparently these are the rich weirdos who own the place, and they proceed to film close-up shots of Joy's, er, joyful areas. (There they are again! Seriously, those things should be listed as concealed weapons! Someone must have been standing immediately off-camera with a bucket of ice to keep those things in that condition.) I've got to admit, I like odd movies, but this was a little weird for me. Meanwhile, the poor guy she arrived with has a glass of champagne until (I have to assume) he is sauced enough to take her on camera.

Joy next accepts a modeling assignment in the Caribbean (during which time the viewer once again witnesses her diamond-hard nipples during a prolonged scene). This assignment results in a poster campaign across France featuring her nude. The poster campaign causes controversy, and Joy is catapulted into international fame, which directly leads to a TV spot in the United States. While there, she begins to receive flowers from her man in France (who reverses roles now) but falls in with a New Age guru who introduces her to Tantric sex. Apparently, personal grooming WAS NOT in vogue in the early '80s, not even for French models. When not involved with her new beau sexually (or spiritually, as he would argue), Joy relates her childhood sadness at being an orphan and expresses a desire to find her father. OK, so this guy is older, the last guy was older, it looks like someone has some daddy issues maybe?

Finally, Joy returns to France, reunites with her man, discovers he is still seeing the other woman, but agrees to go out with him for dinner. Now, if at this point you have not ascertained that this is a weird movie then a.) I have done a pretty bad job of reviewing it, and, b.) rock hard nipples the size of your thumb are a more common occurrence in your life than in mine. But don't worry, because we have saved the best for last. In the final moments of the movie, the two erstwhile lovers go to an underground club (A Temple of Woman) filled with scenes and activities that could pass for something Bob Guccione cut from Caligula as too raw. Unfortunately for her male friend, Joy enjoys the company of several of the patrons (at the same time, to her friend's apparent distaste). Finally, the movie ends with a phone call from United States, where Joy's New Age friend has located her father. Crazy stuff.

What I enjoyed about this movie - I admit, there was not a great deal about this movie that I enjoyed. It amused me to see a lot of the fashions and decorations and technology in the movie. But I'm coming up blank here mostly.

What I feel detracted from this movie - I like a good dirty movie, but sadly, this doesn't get within miles of that consideration. What passes for a plot is almost unintelligible at the beginning of the movie, and the bookend scenes in the large house involving the fireplace are still a mystery to me. This movie may have tried to take itself too seriously, because I certainly wasn't planning to do so.

If I were going to recommend this movie to someone, it would be ...
fans of outrageous and sometimes offensive movies, fans of the old Cinemax "Friday After Dark" run from the early 1990s, and not many others. If you're looking for a movie that might possibly challenge your ideas about female sexuality in modern society, you'd be better off with something like Fur. This movie seems to make an attempt at a serious question (highlighted by the controversy over the nude advertisement featuring Joy) but doesn't really hold together. If you're looking for a titillating skin movie that is softcore enough to get your blood stirring, maybe you'd be better off trying something like the old Lady Chatterley's Lover starring Sylvia Kristel. But maybe that is just the Anglophile talking again. I'm sorry France, I really want to like you!