sabato 5 aprile 2008

film: Going under (2004)

Published: June 15, 2006
Mere moments, it seems, after appearing as a loony Southern landowner in "Crazy Like a Fox," Roger Rees, the perpetually befuddled-looking actor, is on our screens as a desperate masochist in "Going Under." Cheerfully baring every inch of a body Brad Pitt could be proud of, this 62-year-old Welshman plays Peter, a married therapist who becomes overly attached to his dominatrix, Suzanne (Geno Lechner). Suzanne is so creative with the racking and the piercing that when she decides to quit her dungeon job Peter is unwilling to let her go; but can their mutual affection survive above ground?

Unfortunately it's difficult to care. "Going Under" douses its potentially steamy topic in coolly restrained dialogue and an atmosphere of clinical permissiveness. From Peter's conveniently worldly wife — who barely blinks when he announces, "There's a dominant I've been seeing" — to Suzanne's affectless female lover, the movie's characters display an unnerving emotional sophistication.

Only when this cracks does the film feel authentic; but the director, Eric Werthman, a practicing psychotherapist, presents Peter and Suzanne's dilemma like a case study from his own files rather than a real, flesh-and-blood-and-handcuffs relationship. The distance is compounded by the movie's eye-straining interiors, awash in red filtered shadows and the occasional flare of pasty white flesh.

Watching "Going Under" you won't learn much about S-and-M, but your opinion of 60-something nudity will be altered beyond belief.

Directed by Eric Werthman; written by Jessica Gohlke and Mr. Werthman; director of photography, Vladimir Subotic; edited by Vlad Nikolic; music by David Darling; production designer, Ann McKinnon; produced by Ms. Gohlke and Mr. Nikolic; released by Argot Pictures. At the Two Boots Pioneer Theater, 155 East Third Street, at Avenue A, East Village. Running time: 98 minutes.
WITH: Roger Rees (Peter), Geno Lechner (Suzanne), Kit Flanagan (Pat), Sara Ramirez (Lisa), Miho Nikaido (Miko) and Richard Eagan (Walter).


photo by Vladimir Subotic: Geno Lechner plays Suzanne, a dominatrix, in "Going Under."
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