Blu-ray Review: The Last Romantic Lover

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

Shortly after the announcement of the Blu-ray release for The Last Romantic Lover, director Just Jaeckin passed away (September 6). To many who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, Jaeckin was a major filmmaker. His movies straddled the art house and the grindhouse with their eroticism that went into uncomfortable spaces. He spiced up Cinemax After Dark and made you eager to rent the VHS tapes at Video Bar so you looked a touch sophisticated in your voyeuristic carnality. His first three films weren’t the French movies you’d see in International Cinema Classes. Emmanuelle, The Story of O and Madame Claude were major hits with their mix of sensuality and serious cringe moments. It’s appropriate that The Last Romantic Lover comes out now since it allows us to enjoy Jaeckin’s work without a disturbing cinematic moment. The Last Romantic Lover is Jaeckin’s date movie.

The performers for a circus gather around a coffin. This is the funeral for the lion He is given the same send off as if he was the ringmaster. The circus owner Max (The French Connection‘s Fernando Rey) is in bad spot since they don’t have enough money to acquire a new lion. Without a lion, the circus is doomed. He sees only one salvation to keep the show going. A magazine is having a contest to find the last romantic lover. He needs his lion tamer Pierre Mowgli (Immoral Woman’s Gerard Ismael) to enter the contest. The prize money is enough to get a new lion and a few more animals that will keep the audiences entertained in the ring. Pierre is reluctant, but he’s willing to do it to save the circus. The contestant is being run by Elisabeth (Cyborg‘s Dayle Haddon), the editor-in-chief of a women’s magazine. She’s a busy woman who just has enough time to receive the pleasure she needs from her boyfriend. The contest is a major success with thousands of entries and a TV special for the elimination rounds to crown the Last Romantic Lover. The lion tamer makes the cuts to appear as a top 12 finalist on the big broadcast. He is not too excited about competing and being turned into her circus animal. He’s not willing to do tricks on demand. Yet his handsome looks and standoff attitude makes him a fan favorite. Not to give away too much, the contest leads to Pierre being promised a 10-day vacation with the woman of his choice. He picks Elisabeth with their destination being his circus. Now she is the one that is reluctant. It’s not only because she has a boyfriend, but she has a serious fear of circus animals such as snakes and chimpanzees. What will happen and will this lead to a new lion?

The Last Romantic Lover is a romantic film. There’s a beauty to the imagery on the screen thanks to Oscar nominated director of photography Robert Fraisse (Ronin & The Story of O). There’s a bit of role reverse comedy seeing a pack of guys having to play the beauty queens eager to claim a title. The contestants are not happy being eliminated or not even making the cut from the send in your photos stage. There’s a bit of circus thrills during the vacation. There’s one scene where Elisabeth lets an elephant kneel on top of her. You can sense the nervousness in Haddon’s eyes as the big gray feet cross her body. This wasn’t done with a CGI elephant. You can really watch this film with a date instead of something to watch when you don’t have a date. It’s the kind of film that you’d want to see at your local arthouse where you can share a Toblerone with someone you’re trying to impress.

If you want to see one movie by Just Jaeckin with company, The Last Romantic Lover is it. The movie proves that Just could bring a touch of romance to the screen.

The video is 1.66:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the glitz of the magazine’s contest. The audio is LCPM French 2.0. There’s also tracks in DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in French. The movie is subtitled in English.

Audio Commentary from Jeremy Richey, author of Sylvia Kristel: From Emmanuelle to Chabrol. He had done plenty of research on Jaeckin and shares it on the track.

Interview with Just Jaeckin (18:01) has him explain how The Last Romantic Lover is based on a true story. He had worked with a model who came to the city to earn money so she could afford a new lion for her family’s circus. This was recorded in 2020.

Interview with Dayle Haddon (23:24) has her recount going from modeling to acting. She has no memory of how she originally met Just Jaeckin, but she has such a good bond. She could trust he would catch her when she went to emotional places in front of the camera. Dayle said he helped her through her fear of certain animals in the circus scenes. She had also worked with Just on Madame Claude (coming out in November 22 from Cult Epics). She starred in Disney’s The World’s Greatest Athlete.

Presentation At Cinematheque Francaise (15:04) took place on March 30, 2022. Just gets a major surprise from his hosts towards the end. The moderator points out that while Jaeckin’s career is noted for pushing the boundaries of erotic cinema, the Last of the Romantic Lovers is a touch different. Dayle Haddon joins Just is joined on the stage by Dayle Haddon, director Philippe Labro and director Costa-Gavras (Z). Just tells the story about how the film flopped in France, but he found out it was a major hit in Canada.

Promotional Gallery (1:26) includes posters and lobby cards.

Cult Epics Trailers include Madame Claude, Playing With Fire, Naked Over the Fence, Frank & Eva, The Coll Lakes of Death and A Woman Like Eve.

Cult Epics present The Last Romantic Lover. Directed by Just Jaeckin. Screenplay by Ennio De Concini & Just Jaeckin. Starring Dayle Haddon, Gérard Ismaël & Fernando Rey. Rating: Not Rated. Running Time: 103 minutes. Release date: October 25, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.