Left without a family and a few crowns each, cloistered sisters Juliette and her innocent chaste sibling Justine are forced to leave the nunnery’s protection, and for the first time in their life, dwell by themselves in the harsh outside world. But fate can be relentless as it can be cruel and undeserved, and while Juliette finds shelter in Madame de Buisson’s welcoming brothel, at the same time, beautiful auburn-haired Justine will have to cope with an almost endless parade of villains, perverts and degenerates who will claim not only her puny fortune but also her treasured virtue and her life. As a result, Justine humiliated, wrongfully accused and brought to her knees, she will inevitably question her life of uprightness, chastity and suffering, reaching to a reluctant and unpleasant conclusion. Is it blasphemy or is it the voice of reason?
User Reviews: Sorry to disappoint, but Justine is by no means the welter of non-stop gore and perversion you might expect from a confluence of Franco, de Sade and producer Harry Alan Towers. Adapted from the Marquis’s sublimely immoral ‘moral tale,’ it plays for much of its length as a bawdy 18th century romp in the style of Tom Jones. Naturally, with the added joys of cut-rate production values and dodgy acting.
We only hit familiar Franco territory when our heroine (a bland Romina Power – yes, Tyrone’s daughter) is ravished by a coven of depraved monks. Cue for lots of naked Eurotrash starlets, trussed up in chains. Gee, it’s good to be home!
So Justine is not quite your typical Franco production. For a start, it has something approaching a budget. That means a lot of semi-big names (most of whom have seen better days) show up as ‘guest stars.’ Indeed, the film is best watched as a vast costume party, whose guests have been invited to Come-As-Your-Most-Embarrassing-Moment.
Hence we get Akim Tamiroff as a drunken pimp, Mercedes McCambridge as a lesbian brigand, Sylva Koscina as a cross-dressing noblewoman and Klaus Kinski as the Marquis de Sade himself. The grand prize must go to Jack Palance as Brother Antonin, spiritual leader of the above-mentioned depraved monks. His may be the most deranged performance in the annals of screen acting.
Weighed down by the baggage of an international tax-shelter epic, Justine never comes close to the dreamlike delirium of Succubus or Virgin Among the Living Dead or any of Franco’s more extreme, smaller-scale works. Still, it’s a lot of fun – in its utterly reprehensible way.
Franco himself even crops up as the ringmaster of a grotesque peepshow, where Justine is forced to appear after she survives any number of Fates-Worse-Than-Death. Now that’s what I call typecasting!