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This movie from Finnish director J-P Valkeapää brought back to me the title of Jenny Diski’s BDSM novel from the 80s: Nothing Natural – which is taken from lines by Brecht: “Let nothing be called natural in an age of bloody confusion, ordered disorder, planned caprice, and dehumanised humanity, lest all things be held unalterable!”
Respected surgeon Juha (Pekka Strang) is numb with grief after the death of his wife by drowning. When his teenage daughter chivvies him into taking her to a tattoo parlour so she can get a tongue-piercing, prim Juha does not care to witness the grisly procedure and so tactfully wanders away elsewhere on the premises and happens across the dungeon of dominatrix Mona (Krista Kosonen). He is enthralled and emotionally freed by the forbidden ritual, and he enters into an obsessive sub/dom relationship with her.
The film shows how it mysteriously helps his grief and ends his spiritual stagnancy in a way nothing in the respectable world could. And it hints at an even more incorrect thought: could it be that this agony, this fetish, is the most ecstatic and authentic experience of his life, quite aside from its sentimentally redemptive function?
This is a very hardcore film – there were a couple of moments when I couldn’t look, and was longing for the safe word to make the violence stop. But I wondered a little that it ran out of ideas, and couldn’t develop Mona as a character. While Juha gets a rich and sympathetic private life, Mona doesn’t, aside from a few slightly glib hints about her vocation in the straight world, interestingly similar to her work in the dungeon.
In the end, it is in danger of substituting a new monogamous normality. But not before a great deal of alarming and intriguing provocation.
• Dogs Don’t Wear Pants is released in the UK on 20 March, and will be available for streaming on Curzon Home Cinema.
Source: The Guardian
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