This isn't a d/s film really as some say (more routinely known as bdsm but I shorten it to essentials). To my mind, that would be about someone who sheds control and truly gives herself over to another person. What we have instead is someone controlling a fantasy around her. This doesn't preclude it from being good of course but it's worth making the distinction between fetish as piece of theater and vital baring of soul.
But this reveals what the film is actually about and only disguised with erotica. It's about obsessive self, the self that tries to control life, shown as the real barrier that stands in the way of knowing intimacy, reducing life to theater. A petulant ego, as we go on to see, that only expects to be pleased and smothers the other, and the rituals, games, fictions it weaves that keep it from being there for the genuine exchange with another person that sex and love are both ways to manifest. In this way she explores neither herself nor her partner.
And I would go a step further. The big question in both loving intimacy with another person and making a film about it, or really any film that wants to probe the deepest recesses of self, is by what degrees to know and maintain distance, the distance as ambiguity that you honor by refusing to reduce. By what degrees to anticipate and remain open to spontaneity, lead or allow yourself to be led. You can trust that everyone from Tarkovsky to Lynch has mulled over this long and hard, how much to make known even to themselves.
Here there are two reversals of control (over the viewing experience). One in who controls the exchange, and a second about the fictional nature of the exchange. Their effect however is that they leave me with a rather thin reality of petulant abuser and her exasperated enabler. What I have revealed of this world makes me feel that it's not worth staying for.
But knowing his previous work, this is a filmmaker who wants to see with an eye that delves into space to know the feel and cares primarily for what creates visual fabrics. I have him on a short list of talent with the potential to be commanding our attention in the near future.
A very remarkable flow here delves between the woman's thighs, delves through her sex to the box that contains the skeletal remains of what used to be love, and through it to a forlorn walk in the woods that culminates with another box that is the girl swallowing her with suffocating desire.
So he has good intuitions, an eye that reminds me of Europe in the 70s. I hope he grows and takes the leap from being a Juraj Herz or more intelligent Franco into transcendent dreamworlds (as opposed to symbolic). But if he rests here, part of me will be happy all the same, the part of me that favors ethereal wandering. We don't get much of it anymore.
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