Joy & Joan (1985)
By: Paul Ryan on September 19, 2011  | 
Severin (USA) | Region 1, NTSC | 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced) | French DD 2.0 | 94 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Jacques Saurel
Starring: Brigitte Lahaie, Isabelle Solar, Pierre Londiche, Jean-Marc Maurel, Jacques Bryland
Screenplay: Jacques Saurel
Country: Italy
External Links
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Joy & Joan is the sequel to 1983's Joy, reviewed a while back by our own J.R. MacNamara. In his review, J.R. sums up what a lot of us probably think of soft-core porn, describing it as "the mocktail of cinema", and his use of the Dr Evil "diet coke" analogy is spot-on. Like it's predecessor, Joy & Joan comes from the French school of deadly serious arty soft porn of which Emmanuelle is the most famous example. Even if you haven't seen any of the films from this subgenre, you'll probably know the score: jet-setting woman is lusted after (and on) in fancy locales, in gauzy, soft-focus cinematography. The films are designed to look "artistic" rather than openly prurient. As a contrast to hardcore pornography, these films undoubtedly have their place for those not into more graphic sexuality, but in placing a heavy emphasis on artiness (as opposed to actual art), these kinds of films often end up painfully pretentious and ludicrously devoid of humour. Such is the case here.

Adapted from the allegedly semi-autobiographical series of erotic novels by Joy Laurey, Joy & Joan is a very long 94 minutes. Replacing the first film's Claudia Udy is former hardcore performer Brigitte Lahaie (later of Jess Franco's Faceless), who is pretty, looks very nice unclothed and is awesomely blank as an actress.

In this instalment, our supermodel heroine is dating callous louse Marc (Jean-Marc Morel), who, upon declaring her "not marriage material", flies the coop to Thailand. Rebounding into the arms of older rich bloke Bruce (Pierre Londiche), she encourages him to take her to Thailand so she can attempt to win back her bastard ex. On arrival, she discovers Bruce's darker side. During a "welcome party" for her, Bruce drugs Joy and uses her and has her gang-raped by all the men at the gathering. Fleeing the island compound, Joy is pursued by Cornelius (Jacques Bryland), a Prince now fallen on hard times, and in debt to Bruce. Following a brief, humiliating reunion with Marc, Joy catches the eye of tomboy-ish tour guide Joan (Isabelle Solar), and much soft-focus Sapphic-ness ensues. Happiness is short-lived, however, as the pair are kidnapped and imprisoned in a seedy grotto sex club. Can they possibly flee and be happy together? Will you care either way?

I don't know about you, but any movie that sells itself as "erotic", that then has its heroine drink-spiked and gang-raped pretty much fails its primary objective in my book. In fact, there's a recurring rape motif in Joy & Joan that is colossally wrong-headed and offensive. Between Bruce's heinous "welcome party", the subsequent sex grotto kidnapping, and an attempted rape by a bunch of Thai men (in fact, the depiction of the Thai characters borders on racism throughout) , Marc's emotional abusiveness is almost a welcome relief by comparison. After all of that unpleasantness, the sexual shenanigans between Joy and Joan – which, despite the title, don't begin until the film is half over - are tainted, so it's tough to find anything erotic about that either. There's a lot of skin on display from the ladies, all of it very lovely too, but the misjudged tone of the film makes it as sexy as an ice bath. Compounding all of these problems is a grating soundtrack mostly consisting of a horrible ballad called – natch - "Joy & Joan", which plays over and over.

If you're looking for something to get aroused to, there's a billion things out there that will get the job done more effectively than this film. Hell, you're on the internet right now, you could probably find at least a million of them in just a few mouse clicks. Just don't bother with this film.
"Restored from materials seized in a Marseilles vice raid!" declares the cover slick. I guess those vice cops handled those materials with care, because the anamorphic video is in very fine shape. Presented in the original 1.66:1 ratio (slightly pillarboxed on 16:9 displays), the print is very clean and largely bereft of debris. Any softness in the image can be attributed to the way the film was shot, rather than the DVD transfer. The optional English subtitles are readable and well-timed to the dialogue.
The 2.0 track is a-ok, at least as much as any film with hideous eighties Europop ballads on its soundtrack can be.
Extra Features
As bare as the heroine's oft-exposed posterior.
The Verdict
I once had to hose out a wheelie bin that was infested with maggots. That was a more erotic experience than this film. Avoid.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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