Therese and Isabelle (1968)

thereseandisabelleposterThe Netflix queue is an evil beast, especially when you have an ever-growing collection at home that’s always fighting for a spot amongst your rented discs. On top of that, when over half of your disc queue is “Very Long Wait,” you just never have any idea which disc Netflix will decide is going to arrive in your mailbox next. This is how we end up with movies I don’t care to watch, and frankly don’t even remember queuing. Such is the story of Therese and Isabelle, a disc that sat in our living room for nearly a year before we decided to break the seal on it. As I removed it from the red envelope I said to Q: “Wouldn’t it be funny if it was the wrong disc?”

Well, it wasn’t the wrong disc, but the disc was nearly split in half and, needless to say, totally unplayable. That’s what I get for breaking my rule of always checking the disc as soon as it comes in the mail! So after we got the replacement disc, we carved out two hours to watch the damn thing and I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited about it, which may have colored how I felt about the film ultimately.

The film is set in a (French? Swiss? Let’s just go with European) boarding school. Therese, now a grown woman, goes to the school on a Sunday presumably for nostalgic reasons. No one is at the school, so she roams around the grounds and the classrooms alone. The camera follows her gaze as she begins to remember her sexual awakening with her classmate, Isabelle. They meet, they become close, they become really close, and then (SPOILER ALERT!) Isabelle disappears without a trace and Therese never sees her again, solidifying an already disturbing pattern of people leaving Therese hanging out to dry.

You guessed it, Therese & Isabelle.

You guessed it, Therese & Isabelle.

The film is adapted from a book of the same name, and some of the steamiest parts of it aren’t the sex scenes themselves, but rather narration that accompanies them, which I assume is taken directly from the book. The narration will surely make you blush far more than any of the nudity the film’s relatively chaste sex scenes have to offer! Still, the steamy action scenes are few and far between, and unfortunately the rest of the movie doesn’t have much to offer.

The film does do some interesting things with time; often we start off seeing present-day Therese looking at a present-day school, and the camera will pan around her to show us the school of her youth. Additionally there are some beautiful shots of the school grounds, which remind me an awful lot of the hotel grounds in Last Year at Marienbad. Aside from that, I can’t really say much else positive about it. It moves at a snail’s pace, and its 118-minute running time doesn’t help its case out at all. Since I have an interest in early, light smut I’m glad I watched this, and I’m not going to give up on Radley Metzger, but for anyone else who is interested I’d say you’re probably safe to skip out on this one. If it’s dirty girl-on-girl action you’re looking for, my guess is the book will deliver on that much more than the film did!


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