Sir Stephen introduces O, a talented photographer in her late 20s, to a seductive world of deceit, power and eroticism.Sir Stephen introduces O, a talented photographer in her late 20s, to a seductive world of deceit, power and eroticism.Sir Stephen introduces O, a talented photographer in her late 20s, to a seductive world of deceit, power and eroticism.
This version of the classic story of sexual submission pulls its punches so often you wonder why it was even made. Let's get clear right off the bat that there is a lot of nudity in the movie: pretty, naked women all over the place, no disappointments there. The Award of Merit in this regard goes to Ciardi's backside. You just don't see 'em like that very often. The problem is with the film's conception of O. She is supposed to give herself completely to Rene and then Sir Stephen to do with her as they please. That's the whole sexual fantasy the story speaks to. Except in Danielle's portrayal, she gets deep into submission when she is at the château, but as soon as she goes home, it's "OK, whatever." She keeps going back and forth between, "I'm yours. Take me," and, "Are you kidding? Why would I want to do that?" O has to buy into the fantasy, the commitment to subservience, for the viewer to buy into it as well. Ciardi never gets us to that point. One begins to wonder why Sir Stephen, played by the talented Neil Dickson, after all her vacillating even wants to give her the time of day.
As for the château, in the Jaeckin version, when O doesn't obey, she gets her ass whipped, hard, from here to sunrise. She even gets her ass whipped for no reason at all, which is actually the best reason there is. In this version, O objects and they say, "Oh, OK." Good grief. Oh, yeah. The whipping in this move? Lame beyond belief.
O (and I guess we have to blame the director for her confused portrayal, not Ciardi) has the gravitas of someone who just doesn't get sex. There is no sense of lust, of craving, of submission, of yielding herself to the moment. She treats sex with as much heat as if she were stringing beads at summer camp, and with about that much maturity. The gap between her front teeth and her school-girl bob don't help much to create the look of a sexual creature, either.
Again, there's lots of nudity, but none of it smolders. There's no fantasy world to get lost in, which this kind of story should provide to you. The only people who should see SoO: Untold Pleasures are completists who want to say they have seen all the film versions of the O story. A check mark on their list is the only thing they'll get out if this one. If you're looking for a turn-on, this movie ain't it.
- May 14, 2012