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La marionnette (1998)

A candidate for best feature in French pornographer Marc Dorcel’s 37-year career “The Marionette”, displays the craftsmanship and interesting storyline approach that in recent decades has been abandoned as audiences seem to want strictly wall-to- wall sex.

Far from perfect, it is nonetheless a gripping tale of sex in a fantasy context. The basic story resembles a “Twilight Zone” episode with just the right amount of paranoia to keep one rooting for our hapless hero.

He is bamboozled by a diminutive magician, who sells him a weird little cage, smaller than the size of a punch & judy show, containing the title doll. The doll predictably comes to life, and just as predictably our hero ends up in the cage by film’s end.

It is a time-honored, if corny, fantasy premise that life can become a game of Tag, in which one can end up taking over from some poor condemned soul, freeing that individual from torment but taking up the vigil oneself. That’s the germ of the idea for writer-director Alain Payet’s scenario, which is realized visually, minimizing the need for dubbing or subtitling of the French story. It plays extremely well even without the sex, but the XXX content is marvelous.

That’s because Dorcel and Payet cast wonderful talent, starting with Kate Moore in the title role, and the incredibly beautiful Anita Blond as a decadent countess. The tragic figure of Karen Lancaume is also effective, and the male cast while not big names are quite familiar Euro Porn stalwarts.

It was shot on video with that “Wide World of Sports” look, and nearly 20 years later makes a case for the superiority of that approach to today’s HDV imitation of a cinematic visual style that is often merely ugly and poorly lit rather than a supposed improvement. Porn is not shot on real 35mm film anymore, so that option is unavailable.

Highly recommended as essential Adult cinema.

Alternate Titles
Marionette del vizio 1999 Italy, RD Communications