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Dominatrix
cast: Grace Kosaka, Darry Lucio, Larry Bain, Emily Houghton, and Sam Owen

director: Neil Coombs

103 minutes (18) 2002
MIA DVD Region 2 retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Thomas Cropper
"Did you come here for love, did you come here for pain?" If it's the latter, then congratulations - you've come to the right place, because that's all you're getting from this film.
   Now there's nothing wrong with erotic thrillers in themselves, but you can't help thinking they should at least be either erotic or thrilling - this is neither. We're faced with Jade (Grace Kosaka) a dominatrix who splits her time fairly evenly between satisfying the depraved demands of her clients, going to church and reciting poetry in a rather seedy bar. It is here that she'll meet a young singer, Christophe (Darry Lucio) who will finally get this plot creaking into motion. He is besotted and follows her to a nearby bar and from here on in they embark on a stop-start affair which will lead, tortuously to the inevitable conclusion at the end of the film. Before that time she has a number of personal crises to overcome, most notable of which is the death of her closest friend and one seriously pissed off customer.
   Watching a bad film is one thing, but one that thinks it is Citizen Kane is a whole different ballpark. As we flit between Jade's life and her adventures with her various disturbed clients the director, Neil Coombs tries to infuse the film with such weighty considerations as love, trust, faith and dependence. Jade has played the dominatrix part so long that she has forgotten how to play anything else. She chooses friends to whom she can feel superior. Her girlfriend is a neurotic dependent who is content to play the subservient, but all this dominance is merely illusionary, as in her work. Remember - who is paying whom? Christophe challenges this position and the whole movie documents Jade's internal struggle to come to terms with her feelings and allow her to become vulnerable to emotions such as love once again.
   All this is fine, but for one crucial factor - we couldn't care less. We should like our heroine; failing that we must at least be intrigued or sympathetic, but it's hard to feel anything either one way or another and when a disgruntled punter sends a hitman after her it's hard to suppress a cheer. If she's really dead, we think, the film might be over - but no such luck. There's a way to go yet.
   In the end it's just not believable. Christophe loves Jade because the script demands that he loves her. She remains in her job even though she doesn't seem to need the money because the script says she does and any undertones introduced into the script are so plainly sign posted they might as well hang up a neon sign. This is a film with plenty of ambition, but nothing to follow it up with. My advice is to just watch the trailer. It'll save you some time.
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