FELICITY is an obscure Australian/Chinese co-production which deserves a lot more recognition than it has ever received. It is just as intensely sensual now as it was when I first saw it twenty years ago, staring wide eyed at the TV.
It tells the story of a young woman, Felicity (Glory Annen), who is attending a finishing school for girls. Her budding hormones are slowly driving her wild, as she finds herself uncontrollably turned on by watching her classmates in the showers, or even being spied upon by horny local boys and groundskeepers. Her only outlet for these desires are a few unfulfilling trists with her schoolmates. Her salvation comes in the form of a free trip to Hong Kong, courtesy of Dad. She travels to China, where she is shown the sights--and the night life--by a young Asian woman (Jodi Flynn). And so begins an Emmanuelle-esque odyssey of sex and self-discovery.
What is so amazing about FELICITY is how it manages to steer clear of sleaze and seediness without ever shying away from explicit scenes of eroticism. The movie is chock full of sex scenes, including quickies on the bus, in an elevator and a hallway, a very long Asian bathhouse sequence, Felicity spying on her aunt and uncle making love, and an intensely erotic sequence in which she is taken from behind by a man she never even sees, while watching her friend engaged in her own makeout session.
This may all sound extremely sordid, but somehow the filmmakers manage to keep it from ever becoming a sleazefest, as most of the sex scenes are portrayed as innocent, experimental encounters. Felicity eventually meets a nice guy (Christiopher Milne), and soon discovers that, while sex itself is great, it's much better when it's with someone you love. The movie definitely has a more European attitude toward sex; in other words, sex is a normal, healthy part of life, which exists to be experienced and savored, an attitude which has been buried under sensationalism, puritanism and conservatism in America, if it ever existed here at all.
FELICITY is worth seeking out if only to behold the vision of female sensuality that is Glory Annen, a lovely young woman who looks like a cross between Traci Lords and Kate Winslet. Annen is one of those wonderfully likeable actresses of the late 70s/early 80s like Diane Franklin or Judy Aronson whom one wishes had moved on to bigger and better things. Alas, although she currently runs a successful casting agency in London, Annen fell into obscurity after a few film appearances in the early 80s. It's a shame, she should have been a star.
Anyone who enjoys a good erotic movie without the sleaze should try and get their hands on a copy of this masterpiece of soft core cinema. It may seem naive by today's standards, but after such cynical and paint-by-numbers "eroticism" like RED SHOE DIARIES and Cinemax's current After Dark line up, it's a breath of fresh air.