Erotica is in the eye (or whatever) of the beholder, but few beholders are likely to get terribly aroused by STORY OF O. Following up his international hit, EMMANUELLE (1974), Just Jaeckin serves another bland slice of prettified sex for timid couples, guaranteed to be as inoffensive as
O (Corrine Clery) is taken by her lover Rene (Udo Kier) to a house in Roissy. In his car, he instructs her to remove her underwear, go into the house, and do as she is told. Because she loves him, O obeys. In the house, she is given special clothing to wear which will make her sexually available
at the whim of whomever wants her. She is assigned a valet, Pierre (Jean Gaven) whose job it is to chain and unchain her, and to give her such beatings as are deemed necessary. She is not to look any man in the face. O is happy to let herself be used because she agrees with Rene's belief that
letting him give her to others proves that she truly belongs to him. Pierre becomes attracted to her proudness, but cannot break her resolve to do as she is told. When he feels she is ready, Rene brings her back to Paris, where she resumes her job as a fashion photographer.
Rene introduces O to Sir Stephen (Anthony Steel), his mother's stepson from a previous marriage. It is his plan to curry favor with Stephen by giving him the use of O, as well as increasing his hold on O by demanding this further subservience. Alone with O, Stephen examines her and tells her that
she covets all the men who desire her, using Rene's demands as an alibi. O senses that she must make Stephen love her or else Rene will cease to love her. As time goes by, Stephen proposes that O become his, and that they prepare one of O's models to become her substitute with Rene. Stephen sends
O to the house of Anne Marie, where her labia are pierced with gold rings and she is branded with his initials. One of Stephen's friends falls in love with O after sending the evening with her and asks to marry her, but flees when O lets him see her after she has been chained and given a beating
by Stephen's servant. O succeeds in making her model agree to go to Roissy in preparation to become Rene's. Stephen tells her he loves her, despite having vowed never to let himself care about a woman. Just as he had her branded, she burns the back of his hand with her cigarette.
The loosening of obscenity laws and publicity surrounding the subsequent wide availability of pornography created a market for a softer variety of adult film, movies for couples whose interests had been piqued but didn't want to go "all the way." STORY OF O was all but guaranteed to do well on
the basis of its famous name alone. But while everything that happens in the movie came from the book (with the exception of the pseudo-feminist ending), Jaeckin's film can hardly be called a faithful adaptation. It omits far too much from a book whose qualities are so literary that it could
probably never be adequately adapted to film. It's certainly a pretty film, with lush, soft-focus photography and droning orchestral score. But for all its talk about dominance and submission, it fails to bring either side of the practice to life for the viewer. Dully acted by performers who were
apparently cast entirely for their looks, this STORY OF O is for tourists only. (Violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1975
- Rating: X
- Review: Erotica is in the eye (or whatever) of the beholder, but few beholders are likely to get terribly aroused by STORY OF O. Following up his international hit, EMMANUELLE (1974), Just Jaeckin serves another bland slice of prettified sex for timid couples, gu… (more)