What you first need to understand before watching Jess Franco’s Paula-Paula is that it’s not a normal movie. There’s not script, there’s a beginning and ending, but something else in between. It’s actually what the title say it is, an audiovisual experience that could belong in an art gallery. I’ve seen stuff like this at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, but this might be a little bit more sleazy…
It begins with the arrest of a young woman, Paula, who claims she’s been working at a sex club since she was five, first with her dad, and later together with another woman named Paula – and now she killed her. The police, played by a butch Lina Romay, is skeptical about it, and seem to almost let her go. No one cares about her, another crazy woman… There’s a cut to the interaction between Paula and Paula, in something that seem to be the first Paula’s apartment. They dance, there’s long psychedelic mirror-effects, slow-motion and an amazing jazz score by Friedrich Gulda (given to Franco by the children of Gulda, the composer himself is dead) and slowly it leads to the expected ending…
Yes, here we have a 66 minute long piece of video art. Maybe more people should appreciate it if it was shown on a wall in a club, or in dark small cinema during an art exhibition. The majority of these minutes is filled with Gulda’s fantastic jazz music, and some piece of his classical works too, and the scenes of dancing, mirror-effects and sex goes on forever. But there’s never anything tasteless. It’s arty and most of the time very cool, beautiful and trippy. I guess some views would like to light up a joint while watching this, not me of course – and prefer to close my eyes and listen to the music.
The actors are okey, but it’s hard to tell because there’s not much acting. Lina Romay is good as the police woman, but her part is very small. After that scene, the only out-of-place scene comes, when her assistant is watching Paula dance naked by exercise bike (I think…)! It feels like it was shot by someone else and just added to make the movie longer and add some more commercial nudity without video effects and arty editing. I don’t have to mention it probably has no budget at all, and sometimes look very cheap.
As with many other productions from Uncle Jess, this is an experiment that will divide the audience. If you see it as an art video, an installation, you will get more from it than if you’re expecting the normal sleaze-fest. Sure, it has a lot of nudity and no story, but still… this is not one of those Franco-movie where you gather the boys, opens a few beers and having a blast.
The DVD looks nice and is in anamorphic widescreen. The best stuff is the interview with Uncle Jess, where he goes on like he loves to do about movies, music, sex and life in general. You can order it at the official homepage and for the serious Jess Franco-collector this is a must.