Looking ahead, I will say - I liked the movie. This disappointment is all the more intense because a good budget is obvious here, there are a couple of decent actors, and the work of the operator is beyond all praise.
Filmed very beautifully, the film attracts with its atmospheric picture and allows at least a little to come to terms with the ugly mockery of the literary source on the screen. In Soviet film practice, such free retellings were usually denoted by a cautious wording - “based on”. Here the subtitle brazenly informs the viewer about the adaptation of the work of the Marquis de Sade.
Obviously, not wanting to deal with the dynamic adventure storyline of the Marquis, the director took a tearful love story, where few scenes of violence at the very end are crumpled and confused. In the meantime, it was necessary to fill with something more than one and a half hours of screen time, and therefore almost all the action of the film is the incredibly stretched prologue of the novel, and then the whole gag begins.
The first twenty minutes of the film, telling how Juliette and Justine were pupils of the monastery, look like a timid nunsplotation with a lot of unnecessary chatter and a couple of chaste lesbian scenes. At the same time, the originally vicious sadist Juliette is an absolute sweetheart here, guarding the interests of her younger sister. It is already quite obvious that the director is not at all attracted to the aesthetics of the Marquis, as such. Well, I would have filmed Diderot's "Nun" then, although I think that he would also have spoiled that.
After the sisters finally leave the monastery, an even more lengthy piece about their stay in a brothel begins. Where a marquis has several pages concisely reflect a cruel reality - the film plays the dumbest vaudeville about the morals of prostitutes of the supposed 18th century. Allegedly, because, most likely, the production director did not bother to invite a normal historical consultant and most of the interiors, costumes, hairstyles were taken from completely different, later times. The main character, a lover, almost the entire film walks dressed as composer Robert Schumann, and one of the visitors to the brothel sniffs cocaine.
Most villains grieve. The villains here cause a smile of compassion. All scoundrels are a greedy and fearless abbess, an old and cowardly cure, a vanilla-caramel hero-lover, and a few stupid brigands in the style of Jean Rollin. Justine herself in places just infuriates. Reminding the repainted brunette Barbie, she does not cause any sympathy. In addition, at the behest of the director, she often hallucinates - seeing burning coffins and crosses surrounded by dressed up and gothly made-up protagonists. What story of de Sade can we talk about when Justine herself is deprived of innocence (and then almost by agreement) in an hour of screen time?
In general, they ruined the idea on the vine. Conclusion: of the three Justine screenings I have watched, I leave the palm for the Claude Pearson film. However, this movie itself is quite watchable, unless, of course, you like costume melodramas.