Mata Hari
Sylvia Kristel, Christopher Cazenove
The Cannon Group 1984
MGM Home Video 2005
108 minutes
Rated: R Not for sale to persons under age 18 nudity, sexual content

Mata Hari is the usual Cannon Group fodder. It features a famous star, in this case French softcore diva Sylvia Kristel (of Emmanuelle fame), a bunch of generic actors, and, in this case, a pretty decent story if you take out all the sex scenes.

This film purports to be the story of famed WWI spy Mata Hari who played both sides of the fence and was shot for treason by the French. Of course, Kristel has never seen a scene where she did not feel she had to disrobe immediately so there is a lot of nudity and simulated sex but if you can get past that the movie itself is not particularly bad. Christopher Cazenove is pretty good as Count Karl von Bayerling, Mata Hari’s German love interest, and he does what he can with a pretty ordinary script and the occasional scenery-chewing ham actor like Gaye Brown.

The story is basically about the divided loyalties of the Kristel character towards Karl and French army captain Ladoux (Oliver Tobias) and how she basically gets sucked into working for both sides, caught with a bomb in her hands –although she was trying to dismantle it—all the while being a pawn for greater forces who are more interested in their own agenda than ending the war.

Sylvia Kristel herself is not a thespian of the first order and watching her perform the Indonesian dances tends more toward the farce than anything else but she does have a modicum of talent so her take on Mata Hari is not particularly atrocious.

Still, this is generic soft-core adult viewing disguised as a serious movie for those who need some kind of moral justification. For what it is, it is not bad.

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