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Directed by Michael Sarne
Produced in 1968
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Donald Sutherland, Genevieve Waite
Pitched by director Michael Sarne as ‘the female Alfie’ (he could as well have said ‘Barbarella on Earth’), Joanna at first seems so ensconced in the hip aesthetic and ideology of ‘the sixties’ it makes Blow-up look like Cathy Come Home.
Something of a dry run for Sarne’s ambitiously degenerate Myra Breckinridge, which scandalised Hollywood two years later, Joanna establishes him as an audacious visual and narrative stylist (right from the unconventional opening credits) and sets out his penchant for modish touches of cinematic Brechtianism. But at the film’s heart there is a strong current of sensitivity. Promiscuous art student Joanna (the fashionably twig-like Genevieve Waite) immerses herself in the hedonism of the era, only to be derailed by a friendship with dying aristocrat (a strangely effective Donald Sutherland) and a doomed relationship with a black lover (an excellent Calvin Lockhart).
Ahead of its time in terms of a non-exploitative depiction of interracial romance (and a general foregrounding of black characters), Joanna’s glittering surface masks a deep end absent from many a ‘swinging London’ film.
Julian Upton on 28th March 2011
Author of 172 reviews
Billed on the film's original release as 'the female Alfie', 17 year-old Joanna is cool, stylish, and determined to start a new life as an art student in swinging London. Played with gusto by Geneviève Waïte, Joanna indulges in the pleasures of casual sexual encounters, colourful daydreams, and an impromptu trip to Morocco with the wise and debonair Lord Peter Sanderson (wonderfully played by Donald Sutherland). But when Joanna falls in love with Gordon, from Sierra Leone, her life begins to get complicated.
A strangely wonderful, fondly-remembered, campy sixties treat.
Length: 108 mins
Format: DVD+Blu-ray Colour
Released: 25th April 2011
Cat No: BFIB1062
- 2 discs
- Dual Format Edition: includes both Blu-ray and the DVD versions of the main feature
- All films newly transferred to High Definition
- Road to Saint Tropez (1966): Joanna director Mike Sarne's fictional travelogue, starring Udo Kier and Melissa Stribling
- Death May Be Your Santa Claus (Frankie Dymon Jnr, 1969): Radical story of an interracial relationship in late-60s London
- Fully illustrated booklet features newly commissioned sleeve notes.