Heartbeats – John D. Lamond’s ‘Felicity’ (1979)

22 Feb

Everyone, by now, knows that I detest Just Jaeckin’s classic softcore romp Emmanuelle (1974). In my dreams I pretend that the obnoxious titular character doesn’t exist and that a more beautiful, more deserving young woman has a far more interesting journey of self-discovery. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across Australian sexploitation feature Felicity (1979) which is, essentially, a nicer and more bearable retread of Emmanuelle. With a much prettier lead actress. Right up my street then.

Felicity (Glory Annen) is a young Australian girl on the cusp of her sexual awakening. A pupil in a convent school, Felicity dreams and longs for sex, noticing the changes in her and her fellow classmates bodies and exploring her feelings with best friend Jenny. One day Felicity receives a letter from her father telling her she will go to Hong Kong for the summer and suddenly the whole world as Felicity knows it changes…

So why is Felicity more tolerable than its predecessor Emmanuelle? Lead actress Annen is a far more believable and likeable version of a young girl discovering who she is and what she likes. Whereas Emmanuelle appears to have a take-it-and-not-so-sure-if-I-like-it-or-not-but-I-won’t-let-on-either-way approach to her burgeoning sexuality, Felicity’s is more encompassing in its honesty of people having both good and bad sexual experiences. Felicity loses her virginity to an older man in an awkward situation and realises that sex is not what she thought it was, feeling guilty, upset and ashamed after it. Feelings that can be, in reality, associated with sex. After a few more encounters in which she learns more about herself and how to use her body, she begins to realise what she wants. So when she meets Miles and falls for him, we know she wants him badly. What’s also nice for Felicity is that she’s surrounded by a small group of people who want to encourage her developement but don’t force it upon her, giving Emmanuelle’s pestering ex-pat pals a good one finger salute.

Maybe the beauty in Felicity is it’s simplicty, which lets face it most sexploitation films have, and its ability to be relatable in a nice way. We’ve all had bad sexual experiences, we all know the excitement and wandering thoughts that come with a developing body and sexuality. We’ve all had one night stands or fumbles in dark corners and have all met someone we just can’t keep our hands off and want to be around all the time. It’s part of everyone’s sexual history. Or maybe it’s just the stunning creature that is Glory Annen, whose body you can’t take your eyes off for the whole duration of the film. Even I fell in love with her, wanting to pick her up and show her a good time. Her innocence and believable want to learn is what drives the film and makes her summer of sexual discovery a more enjoyable one. If that’s no good for you, I defy you to not want to eat a KitKat Chunky by the end of the film. The publicity photo of Annen eating a chocolate bar even makes me want to practice my blowjob skills on one…

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