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Lady Libertine
February 2007 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Frank And I
cast: Christopher Pearson, Jennifer Inch, and Sophie Favier

director: Gerard Kikoine

83 minutes (18) 1984
Fabulous DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
Also known as Lady Libertine, this film attracted controversy a few years ago when one of its actors tried to block its re-release. Indeed, the character of the 'accommodating' mistress Maud is played by a woman named Sophie Favier. Favier was, at the time of the film being made, noted for her topless TV performances, particularly the salacious French variety show Coco-Boy. However, since then she has become a legitimate TV presenter, even presenting the French Euro-millions draw. However, despite all her efforts, Favier's case did not succeed and this story of cross-dressing teenaged girls, brothels and beatings is now yours to own on DVD, should you have some kind of aversion to proper porn.

Based on a Victorian erotic novel, Frank And I begins with Charles Beaumont taking in a stray boy that he happens to meet. Soon Beaumont finds himself falling in love with the very blonde and very androgynous boy but when Frank is caught brutalising the staff (no pun intended), Beaumont decides to cane the boy leading to the discovery that Frank is in fact Frances. Troubled by his discovery, Beaumont goes on a long voyage but soon finds himself missing Frances and returns in order to send her to be trained in the womanly arts by his mistress Maud. Once Frances is appropriately feminised, Beaumont whisks her away on holiday and, after fearing that she might be falling for another man, marries her and lives happily ever after.

Should this plot seem vaguely familiar to you, I would not be surprised as it was satirised in the second series of Blackadder when Edmund falls in love with his manservant Bob ('Frank' no doubt changed to 'Bob' to make the most of Atkinson's excellent comedy Bs). Unfortunately, the element of gender confusion that once made the Victorian story so infamous has been set aside along with the kinkier BDSM elements of Frances and Charles' relationship. No doubt due to the legendary French exploitation film director Gerard Kikoine wanting to reach as large an audience as possible, rather than just those kinky people who are turned on by teenaged cross-dressing and canings.

Frank And I is your standard early 1980s' soft porn film. The sex is rigorously un-kinky, it is artfully shot and all you ever get to see are some breasts and the odd flash of minge. Kikoine being used to showing more struggles with the constraints of the genre but despite the sex scenes being seemingly all shot in the dark, he manages to suffuse the film with a nice erotically charged atmosphere. This means that while the sex itself is under-whelming, the film itself is, as a whole, quite stimulating. Favier is the standout actress when it comes to the cast's physical charms and as a result it is unsurprising that the film's alternate title (Lady Libertine) seems to focus more on her than the androgynous and, frankly, quite plain Ms Inch who is written as a naïve simpleton and played in much the same vein. These considerations aside, it is genuinely difficult to rate the acting of this film because it is dubbed. This being a very bare-bones DVD release (we don't even get to select chapters on the menu) there is no French language version and this means that modern audiences will be deprived Favier's truly epic lisp (a speech impediment that has earned her the nickname 'Fophie Favier' in her native France) as well as the traditionally funny atrocious acting that you get in all porn films.

Nicely made but ultimately disappointing, Frank And I has more historical value than it does as a film in its own right.

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