You’d be forgiven if you were expecting a bit of slap and tickle from this Trigon film but in its own way it’s gently subversive and in general its production values lift if above most sex “comedies” of the period.
The plot is developed carefully and there are real, complex characters at the hearts of this: I don’t know where the patience and commitment came from but the end product is touching… and also ambiguous. The nearest we get to some phwoar moments are when Bill (David Sumner), the frustrated husband at the heart of the story, eyes up blonde bombshell Carol Hawkins (here listed as Carolanne Hawkins) but even their interaction has a contribution to the plot: it’s not just gratuitous.
|Bill and Jean's street|
Jean’s desires are more towards her career and getting a balance between work and the demands of motherhood. She’s still planning away after Bill moves on her one night and his efforts at arousal barely distract her from thinking it’s time they got an au-pair.
|The space between them: Joan Alcorn and David Sumner|
As Bill casts furtive glances at Monique’s legs she’s chatting away to Jean in French and awakening a more cosmopolitan side of the house wife. Naturally the children are impressed and it seems they have got lucky.
|Jeana nd Bill welcome Monique|
|Bill can't hide his interest|
Back at the house Monique sends Richard off on a promise and finds Bill waiting up for her… one thing leads to another and with Jean soundly asleep, the two fall into Monique’s bed…
So far so predictable but whilst Bill has a spring in his step at last, there’s a lot more going on than he knows.
|Jean is re-awakened|
Cue a trip to the pub, a dazed, un-consummated liaison with Carol Hawkins and soul searching all round. Time for Monique to step in and make sense of everyone’s feelings over dinner, a crowded bedroom and post-coital considerations on Woolworth’s-procured abstract art…
|Pay attention! Bill's mind is definitely not on the job...|
But there’s something about the ending that suggests Monique has done more than just jump-start Bill and Jean’s marriage… things may never be the same again and Bown leaves more questions than answers in an ostensibly complete ending.
|When was the last time you did something daft?|
The tone is however always light, and whilst not a comedy as such the film has a few smiles to lighten the tone of what could have been a far more serious and consequential story.
There’s fine music provided by Jacques Lousier and his trio (was that a subtle cross-ref?) which sounds almost completely as if it’s from their Plays Bach 3 LP originally recorded in 1959 and therefore not written especially for the film. It is great stuff, one of my favourites from my parents’ music collection and it brings back memories of listening on the radiogram in beige-walled living rooms just like Bill and Jean’s…
Monique has now been re-released on DVD by saucy Screenbound Pictures as part of their “Slap and Tickle” series: don’t believe that hype; there’s more to Monique than meets the eye.