So it is that Joanna can be also conflicted and disconnected from itself and from any simple narrative explanation. The lead character, played by Geneviève Waïte, is frequently caught in fantasy, and you’re occasionally caught out although, when at the end she reaches up to kiss the director Michael Sarne and his crew before leading a full-cast song and dance routine at Paddington Station, you know there’s something arch going on…
|Scott sings and Wally arranges...|
Joanna begins in deary monotone as trains draw into Paddington in late 1968… her train arrives and she pokes her blonde head out and suddenly the film is in colour. She has come to London to study art and will be staying with her Granny (Marda Vanne) who whom she delivers several dozen bottles of mummy’s home-made jam. Granny lives in the whitewashed Georgian townhouse of a Kensington or a Knightsbridge although Joanna is a little cockerny…
|Michele Cook and Geneviève Waïte|
Joanna’s relationship with men is revealed as cutting both ways as, in flashback, we see her morning going very badly when she comes in to find her lover Bruce (Anthony Ainley – the third Master in Doctor Who!) has an attractive blonde in the house, Angela (Jane Bradbury), even those he’s singing the Scott Walker song in the shower! Joanna offers her a cup of tea and is very British about it before cutting and running.
|Geneviève Waïte and the very cool Glenna Forster-Jones|
Of course, when we do get to meet big brother he is the impossibly cool Gordon (Calvin Lockhart), a business man in a groovy American motor!
|Christian Doermer and Jimmy Dean: posters of movie stars adorn the sets throughout|
Joanna takes a trip to Morroco with Lord Peter and Beryl along with her new boyfriend, the rather shallow and ambitious Dominic (David Scheur). As Dom asks Peter for business advice Joanna enjoys the most lovely sunset with Peter who, in addition to telling her she must find herself, advises that he has a terminal illness and has not long to live.
Dominic is soon discarded and Joanna starts seeing a man of considerably more means… Gordon is everything that the investment banker was not and is not just charming but dangerous too. In his plush, ultra-modern penthouse, he finds a man spying and is then confronted by a group of handy-looking business men. It’s a warning but he can look after himself and, after a reprisal has been made, he has to go on the run…
Reality bites for Joanna and in more ways than one.
Dusty verdict: Joanna is a very interesting film with a few dainty flaws here and there depending on how much you like the lead actress although I thought she did very well.
Overall the cast more than pass muster, none more so than the imperious Donald Sutherland and, whilst the story may meander, unlike others of the age, especially Candy, there is a point to all of this and it’s a rather fundamental of not mundane one. It’s also worth noting Walter Lassally’s crisp cinematography which captures the fashion, sooty London streets and magnificent Mediterranean light with equal aplomb.
|Amazing colour and depth of field!|
Joanna is available as part of the BFI Flipside series in both BluRay and DVD, available direct or from Amazon.
|The big finish!|
|The dull start...|