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Linda: A Girl Who Wanted to Love, but Couldn’t

by Tony Nash

(The Artistic Erotic Drama 1)

(Spoilers Ahead)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(This review is of the French language original)

(Author’s Note: Due to the fair bit of nudity in the film, stills may sometimes be repeated)

Le journal intime d'une nymphomane Blu-ray Release Date July 31 ...

Le Journal Intime d’une Nymphomane (The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac/Sinner: The Diary of a Nymphomaniac) (1973) **** NC-17

Montserrat Prous: Linda Vargas (as Mona Proust)

Jacqueline Laurent: Rosa Ortiz

Anne Libert: Countess Anna de Monterey

Kali Hansa: Maria Toledano (as Gaby Herman)

Howard Vernon: The Doctor

Doris Thomas: Mrs. Schatz, the Photographer

Manuel Pereiro: Mr. Ortiz

Francisco Acosta: Alberto, the Married Playboy (as Gene Harris)

Jesus Franco: Commissaire Hernandez

Written by: Jesus Franco (as Jesus Franco Manera) & Elisabeth Ledu de Nesle

Directed by: Jesus Franco (as Clifford Brown)

Synopsis: A woman doing a lesbian act for a risqué night club meets a man she recognizes, but he doesn’t know her. She gets him drunk and while he’s passed out, phone’s the police and kills herself. When the man is wrongfully charged in her murder, his wife investigates the dead woman’s past, and soon learns a tragic story of lost innocence, humiliation, sexual awakening, and, shattered redemption.

Le Journal Intime d'une Nymphomane | Offscreen

In 1973 Jess Franco was at the end of his seclusion after the death of his Muse Soledad Miranda, and before journeying into his new chaotic, less narrative driven films, made a dark exploitation film that actually rises above its poster and stills images with an in depth story and complex, even though some are one -dimensional, characters. What begins as a murder-mystery style investigation by a wife when a seemingly typical prostitute kills herself and frames a man who turns out to be her husband, turns into an odyssey that reveals stolen innocence, a sexual rebirth, attempts at normalcy, and a failed salvation. Questions soon begin to arise if the woman was truly a lost soul or simply resisted in one way or another the help of others.  Somber in that it doesn’t treat naked women and sex scenes as the wacky and racy romps that other exploitation films of the times did, Franco doesn’t make these scenes out to be dirty or only for derelicts, but can be positive or negative based on the individual and circumstances. He also goes into the territory of even though people and experiences can help shape the victims of such moments, what those individuals do in the wake of those moments and the choices they make inevitably are of their own making.

JOURNAL INTIME D'UNE NYMPHOMANE, LE - Chronique/Critique/Review ...

Franco’s usual display of locations is not on display here as it would be in many of his other films, but he is able to get in some fantastic brief shots of old public avenues, chateau’s and beautiful public buildings. These don’t necessarily add anything t the plot at hand, but they do offer a nice change of pace to some otherwise dreary indoor scenes.

Le Journal Intime d'une Nymphomane | Offscreen

Test Blu-ray / Le Journal intime d'une nymphomane, réalisé par ...

Montserrat Prous, a little-known Spanish actress credited here under the name Mona Proust, gives a dynamic and compelling performance as Linda Vargas. Initially a wide-eyed, dreaming big teenager who comes to city to seek a better life, her world drastically changes for the worst when she’s molested while at the local fair by an older man. Her life looks to take a turn for the better when she meets a bisexual countess whom she engages in a romance with. After a spat that has Linda leaving the countess for good, she begins a torrid life of drugs and porno pics with a stripper lover. A drug raid by the police leads her into the care of a holistic doctor with bizarre methods who tries to help her, but her continuous need for physical pleasure constantly threatens her success. Prous plays Linda as a woman who just wanted to love and be loved, but her first experience being unwanted and traumatic, has her making bad choice after bad choice. In the Countess and the doctor, she is shown to have positive chances to have a good life, but either a self-destructive inner nature, or an inability to control herself always ruins those opportunities. While at times Prous shows Linda as wanting to change, she somehow always feels she’s a hopeless case doomed to a horrid existence.

Le journal intime d'une nymphomane (1973) -

Interestingly, both Franco and Prous leave the audience wondering about Linda’s sexual awakening and true sexuality. She certainly isn’t heterosexual or lesbian as she clearly doesn’t seem interested in just one gender, and while she can be easily be called bisexual with a preference for women, her openness to making love to anyone as stated in her highly explicit diary, this somehow doesn’t fit either. Linda can most likely be counted as one of the first pansexual characters in that she doesn’t really discriminate in who wants to have sex with her, as long as they are good people.

le-journal-intime-d-une-nymphomane-004 | Critique Film

Journal intime d'une nymphomane, Le - Le Chat qui Fume

The other two important characters in the story are Countess de Monterey and The Doctor, played by Anne Libert and Howard Vernon respectively. The Countess is a free loving woman of royal decent who forms a brief, but forever strong bond with Linda. The first true loves of each other’s lives, jealousy quickly tears them apart when not only the love of the same man interferes, but also Linda’s somewhat selfish nature of self-pity. Sadly, Linda’s death and abandonment leaves the Countess longing for her, even upon the realization the poor girl was on the road to self-destruction. The Doctor is a mysterious figure who may or not be what he seems, but clearly has good intentions. His attitude in regards to personal connection with the people he wants to help has questions rising about him, and whether this puritanical and asexual/platonic approach to therapeutic recovery is all what it is promoted as.

DVDFr - Journal intime d'une nymphomane : le test complet du Blu-ray

While Jacqueline Laurent’s character of Rosa is a key figure into finding out why Linda killed herself and framed Rosa’s husband, there’s really not much to her. Franco seemed to have included her as a means of other characters to relate Linda’s story to a witness who would then have to decide what to do with the knowledge they have received. Rosa’s one point of interest in that she’s an all right woman who somehow ended up in a bad marriage who ends up learning many a sad truth not only about her husband and Linda, but something about herself.

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The film doesn’t present exploitation sex and sensuality in any kind of fun light here, and the characters are often very broken and misleading people who may be genuine, but can change in a heartbeat. Franco’s attempt at a cautionary tale against perverts and how to redeem oneself in the wake of bad experiences is very effective and shows what Franco was capable of doing when he had the freedom to be creative and do what he wanted to do.

(This is a film I would only recommend to serious film buffs who wanted to expand their horizons, or to people who aren’t offended by nudity and can see past the exploitative nature of the work. Jess Franco was certainly a maverick in his own way, and shows here he was not afraid to tackle the darker issues of what normal exploitation features tended to glamorize and play for laughs. Montserrat Prous plays a very broken woman here, and takes that broken nature to the point of where the viewer can’t tell is she wants to be redeemed and is always foiled somehow, or if she’s simply self-destructive and wanting to engage in a self-fulling prophesy in bad things always happening to her family. While the IMDB lists the film as R rated, I personally give it an NC-17 due to the abundant nudity, the frank depiction of aimless sexual escapades, and the very sexually explicit dialogue from the Linda character. The French company Le Chat Qui Fume (The Cat Who Smokes) did a very fine job in resurrecting one of Franco’s more obscure efforts with a fine restoration and audio clean-up. The disc is region free and is English friendly in both an dub track and translated subtitles for the original French audio. While having a couple special features, Only the interview with actress Jacqueline Laurent is English subtitle friendly, but that’s OK, as she gives an abundant amount of info on the film, and her relationship with Franco.)

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

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