Radley Metzger's stylish and provocative soft-core films of the 60's and 70's were renowned for lush visuals and tastefully orchestrated love scenes, thanks mostly to the fact that Metzger's cinematic influences were of the decidedly non-erotic variety. During the 1970's, the director's films grew more explicit without losing the air of class that made his earlier movies such wonderful examples of what erotic cinema could be. 1975's L' Image is, perhaps, Metzger's most controversial and sought after film, and Synapse's presentation of this lost gem is nothing short of wonderful.
Jean (Parker) is a writer who meets a lovely young woman named Anne (Mendum) at a party. She is at first skittish and quiet, and seems to be particularly attached to an acquaintance of Jean's named Claire (Roberts). When Jean finds out the Anne is Claire's "slave" of the S&M variety, the trio embark on a series of erotic adventures in which Claire orchestrates Jean and Anne's trysts. It is not long, however, before Anne is entrusted to Jean to do his bidding, and he relishes the thrill of controlling this gorgeous woman's every action. While Claire and Jean seem to be the masters tugging on the puppet strings of their shared slave, it slowly becomes apparent that Anne is actually a conduit between the two and may ultimately bring them together.
Metzger's handling of "hardcore" sex is understated and artistic, eschewing the "in your face" style of your average adult film for a very subdued and erotic feel. Cameras don't simply ogle an extreme close-up of someone's anatomy, rather they drift around the sets, focus on the expressions and surroundings, and flash to the actual acts with a patient and natural style that truly heightens the erotic experience. When one factors in the lovely cinematography by René Lefèvre and Gaston Muller, L' Image is more than just another adult film.
Synapse has gone to great lengths to restore L' Image from original 35MM negatives, and they've done a remarkable job. The picture quality is sharp and virtually artifact free, with only an occasional frame jump, but still very impressive. The new 2.0 stereo soundmix is solid, and for purists, the original mono soundtrack (which is rather scratchy and pales in comparison to the new mix) is also on hand. The set is rounded off by liner notes an isolated music track, and theatrical trailers. While this package isn't as feature rich as most Synapse releases, one wouldn't expect a load of extras from a film that has been butchered and shown in as many alternate versions as L' Image. As a matter of fact, it's quite a feat that Synapse was able to meld the "lost footage" so seamlessly back into the fold.
While not for the kiddies, L' Image is a great erotic film that will surely please fans of European adult cinema and is recommended to all of the couples out there who want to add a touch of class to their next erotic evening.