When Outward Bound is Outward Bondage
A misleading image from Demonlover ... or ... is it misleading?
copyright 2006 by Pat Powers
Guess what kind of film this describes?
A sexy female high tech industrial espionage agent gets in over her head when she gets involved with a French real estate firm that is competing with a U.S. firm to purchase rights to a Japanese firm's product line of 3D hentai films, which promise to make its distributors wealthy. Behind this lies the dark secret of Demonlover, an extreme SM and bondage website that doesn't necessarily use models who are working on a consensual basis.
You're probably thinking, "Hentai." Wrong.
Or you might be thinking "Sleazy erotic thriller." Also wrong.
What we're talking about is Demonlover, a mainstream French suspense film by director Olivier Assayas, creator of such acclaimed films as "Irma Vep" and ""A New Life" (well, acclaimed by critics and the art house crowd, anyway). It's a film that was muchly misunderstood by critics and which was too exciting and suspenseful for its art-house crowd audience.
If it had been properly understood by its marketers as a hard-core cyberpunk near future noir, and sold that way, it might have made a lot more progress in the U.S. markets. But it wasn't and it didn't, and so it remains for me to get in there and explain what the movie was all about, a fundamental task which almost every mainstream critic who took a shot at it failed to do, and also what a great film it is and could be, something else they all missed.
Be forewarned: the following review is chock full of spoilers for Demonlover, so if you haven't seen the movie, stop right where you are, go out and rent or buy yourself a copy. I got mine at my friendly local mom and pop video shoppe, and others have reported finding it at Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video. It's also available at Amazon. It's NOT a hard film to get a copy of, and if you like suspense, you'll like Demonlover.
Connie Nielson plays Diane, an industrial spy ostensibly working for Volfsgrup, a large French firm whose business interests involves real estate, stock trading (or maybe its arbitrage, we're never really made clear on that point) hentai and BDSM websites. They're doing huge real estate deals in places like Abu Dhabi, they've got a trading room full of guys and gals in sharp business attire staring at computer screens with bug-eyed intensity and screaming desperately into telephones, but the really hot division of the firm, the one that's go-go as they say-say, is the one that's involved in acquiring the distribution rights to a new breed of 3D Japanese animated porn (i.e. 3D hentai). This is the deal they are sure will REALLY make the big bucks (as opposed to piddly Middle Eastern land deals or massive stock trading operations).
Connie Nielsen is easy on the eyes, greatly resembling Diana Rigg in a bad haircut in this film. She plays an amoral industrial spy working for an amoral big-bucks corporation. Here she points out that their kinky hentai purchase is "Within the limits of the law." Little does she know...
Here's one of the places where Demonlover misses a step -- the director obviously hasn't got a clue as to how business in general works. More about that later.
OK, back to the action. We catch on to Diane's perfidy quickly, when she drugs the drink of an older colleague named Karen in order to arrange a kidnapping which puts Karen out of action for a time and position Diane to take over the Japanese hentai acquisition. It all goes smoothly, or seems to, until Diane comes back to her office and finds the bottle of water she'd used to drug Karen sitting on her desk, with a note saying "Forget something?" on it.
Obviously, Diane's cover has been blown. But she doesn't know who blew it, and when she returns to work it's business as usual, so Diane goes on as if nothing had happened, though with a heightened degree of wariness. Not that she wasn't already pretty durned wary -- we are treated to endless scenes of Diane staring warily about as she goes about seemingly mundane corporate business.
When Diane's invited out to the country estate of Volf, Volfgrup's owner, she's extra wary. Has she been exposed? Will Volf fire her, turn her over to the police perhaps? Instead, Diane finds out she's been assigned to take over her victim's duties with the hentai firm distribution deal as she planned, and Diane figures she's safe for a time.
But of course, she isn't safe. Karen has been released after her kidnapping and shows no sign of being aware that it was Diane who set up her kidnapping. Things seem to go swimmingly for Diane (in fact, we see her swimming laps at one point) until Diane and coworker/boss Herve meet with representatives of Demonlover, an American firm that's planning to go in with Volfsgrup on the hentai deal. Diane's REAL employers determine that the Americans are carrying their plans in a laptop computer carried by the female American rep, and ask Diane to steal it so they can get a leg up on the deal.
So Diane does a black bag job on the hotel room, dressed in a skintight catsuit. I don't know if this is the uniform for women committing burglary or what, but I like it. (The sight of Diane in her black catsuit is a nice bit of foreshadowing on at least two levels, which we'll cover later.)
The American rep is played by the delectable Jennifer Tilly, and she happens to come sashaying back to her hotel room to find her computer messed with and Diane in her room.
A catfight ensues. For the first few seconds, it's a sexy, fun catfight, with Nielson in her catsuit slugging it out with Tilly in her evening dress, desperate and sweaty and angry. But in very short order it gets nasty and suddenly they're clobbering each other over the head and jabbing each other with shards of broken glass.
The fight spills out into the hallway into a utility room when Tilly gains a momentary advantage and makes a break for it. Diane recovers from the whammy Tilly put on her and follows her into the utility room. More nasty wounds are inflicted and both participants pass out on the floor.
Diane comes to in her hotel room, dressed in her jammies, with a splitting headache, cleaned up and with no sign of Tilly or her struggle with Tilly except for some bruises and some bittersweet memories.
Diane revisits the scene of her crime and finds that the bloody handprints they left on the walls of the hotel have vanished, as have all signs of the bloody struggle in the utility room.
One of the images seen on the Demonlover site as Diane watches. Look familiar? Yeah, most of the Demonlover imagery is fairly standard bondage imagery, presented as totally outrageous and verging on the illegal.
She's confused. She returns to work, where she logs into the Demonlover website and finds the Hellfire Club site, a "secret" site hidden within Demonlover. (More about that later, too.) It's a nasty SM website with frightened-looking, scantily dressed women in chains and such being subject to various indignities and tortures. Hellfire Club's gimmick is that paying members get to not only view the indignities and such, but direct the hooded goons as to what indignities will be done unto the bound damsels. The indignities include things like being strapped to a bed wearing a Wonder Woman outfit for electrical shock and such (the movie didn't show any scenes of the women being sexually used while in bondage, but since the whole point of the Demonlover site was that just about anything could be done to the cuties on the site, you can pretty much assume rape here).
Diane watches the goings-on at Demonlover, which visually resemble the disturbing images James Woods discovered on a secret pirate TV station in Cronenberg's "Videodrome."
Scene from Videodrome. They didn't have hot babes acting in Canada in those days, but you get the idea...
Shortly thereafter, Karen, now recovered from her ordeal, comes by while Diane is watching the Demonlover feed. She comments that it is strangely compelling, and says that she has been with Demonlover for some time, but that they no longer have much use for her (which kinda makes you wonder who Karen's real employer is).
Connie is looking warier and warier now as it is becoming very clear that either she's nuts or her corporation is.
We are treated to many closeups of Diane gazing about warily throughout the movie. Fortunately, Connie Nielsen's wary eyes are ... easy on the eyes.
Along that same theme, there's Elise, a young secretary working at the office, played by Chloe Sevigny, who was the kidnapped woman's secretary and now works for Diane. Elise doesn't much like Diane, but she's obviously got a lot of affection for Karen, whom she visits while she recovers. She doesn't like Diane, who treats her like dirt and yells at her when she doesn't do exactly what Diane tells her to do, and doesn't trust to do relatively simple things.
When Diane gets a note demanding that she meet with someone in a parking garage, she does so -- maybe now she'll find out who has penetrated her cover, and why they haven't blown the whistle on her. The person she winds up meeting is Elise, who pulls a handgun out of her purse and forces Diane to drive around town with the gun pointed at her. "It's a message from Karen" Elise says before giving Diane a videotape and getting out of the car, instructing her to watch it.
A lot of reviewers felt the plot fell apart right here, but this scene solidly advances the plot -- if you understand it.
I think the reviewers who didn't get the scene thought it was all about Elise and Diane. I can see them thinking, "Diane's treatment of Elise at the office is cold, but it doesn't merit much more than putting a bag of flaming poop on Diane's front porch and ringing her doorbell. Certainly not sending her a threatening note and then pulling a gun on her and saying cryptically hostile things to her. I mean, this is a French film but ..."
(I can understand the confusion of reviewers here -- European films have tended to fly off the rails a lot. I think it's fine that filmmakers don't have to show audiences every last story element -- audiences can reasonably be left to infer some things. But frequently this leads filmmakers to include scenes just because they think they're striking, neat and cool, and hope that the fans will make something out of them. Sometimes, it leads filmmakers to include MANY such scenes. And thus the European art film was born. Now, although I'm willing to accept a reasonable amount of inference, or fan wankery as it's also known. But I think the line must be drawn somewhere -- at EXTREME fan wankery, fan wankery that leaves fans spouting brain-damaged gibberish to make sense of such scenes.)
But this scene is REALLY all about Karen and Diane, and it DOES advance the plot, quite strongly.
Diane's next shock -- when she gets home she watches the videotape. It shows Diane and Tilly's catfight -- and its aftermath. A crew of what are termed "cleaners" is shown picking up Diane's unconscious body and Tilly's apparently lifeless body and hauling them out of the utility room. They also are seen scrubbing the bloody handprints off the walls and otherwise removing all vestiges of the struggle from the hotel hallway and the utility room, and presumably from Tilly's hotel room. Elise is seen with the crew.
Diane watches the clip of her catfight with Tilly and realizes her role in life is about to change ...
The message is quite clear: "Gotcha!" Whoever (other than Elise, she's clearly a minion type, though a high-powered minion) sent the tape clearly has evidence that Diane has killed someone -- if Tilly is indeed dead.
In the next scene, we see Elise and a goon entering Diane's apartment. They have a certain air of resolve about them. We aren't left wondering what that's all about for long: Elise makes Diane verbally confirm that she agrees to all the "terms and conditions" they had negotiated, without telling us what they are. But we can easily guess, because in the next scene Elise and the goon escort Diane into a big European luxury car of some sort with dark-tinted windows, and when Elise snuggles into the back seat with Diane and cuffs her hands behind her back and puts a black hood over her head, you kinda have to figure they aren't headed for Disneyland.
Elise helps a hooded and cuffed Diane out of the car. They are NOT going to Euro-Disney.
Where they go is another place entirely -- the country estate owned by Volf -- and who, you have to figure, now owns Diane.
And when we see Diane's cuffed and hooded form being led down a long hallway to a dank-looking room that greatly resembles one of the dungeon rooms that showed up on the Demonlover site webcasts, we have to figure Diane is well and truly fucked.
We have to FIGURE that because we don't KNOW it -- all we see of the scene in the room is Diane standing there in a hood with a male goon taking a swig of preparatory booze, undoubtedly wondering where the hell she is and what the hell is about to happen to her -- and guessing it won't be fun. For her, at least.
I for one would have enjoyed seeing a few bondage/sex scenes featuring Nielson in the Demonlover dungeon. But that never occurs. Once again, we are left to infer, though the inferences we are left to make don't require much effort. When next we see Nielson, she's slumped over a goon's shoulder, unconscious, being returned to her apartment. Elise is with them. Elise makes sure Diane is resting comfortably on the bed and treats a nasty looking bruise on the inside of Diane's elbow. Shortly thereafter, they're both back at the office, and they're both very different women. Diane's clearly no longer an ace in the corporate hierarchy, instead she seems to be playing a distinctively secretarial role, fetching documents for others, and one of those others is Elise, who is definitely at least one step over Diane in the hierarchy and maybe several.
If we'd seen Diane going through some of this, I think her subsequent submissive behavior might have been a little easier to understand.
We are never told exactly why Diane's behavior changes, but once again, it's not hard to infer some fairly intensive sessions in the dungeon room to help convince her that she has a new role in life, given that they have proof that she committed murder and can turn it over to the police any time they like, leading to a much longer term of imprisonment. (Though given that this is a European country, they can't frighten her with the death penalty). Once they've got her in the dungeon under her own power, a few days or weeks tied to a horse naked and hooded getting alternately whipped and fucked, followed by evenings of being chained to a steel bedframe in gimp suit being electroshocked -- that might make secretarial work look good to Diane, by comparison anyway.
Diane must have been pretty conflicted about the whole dungeon thing, because when her immediate superior, a guy named Herve, tells her that he was the one who set her up for it, shortly thereafter she sleeps with him. The sex turns into rough sex, with Herve doing the roughing up. At the height of passion (and I mean his cock is up her pussy) Diane gets her revenge -- she shoots Herve to death.
Well, this second murder is a bit much for Volfsgrup, and she's out of the secretarial pool, and into the dungeon pool. Elise hauls her out into the middle of nowhere, this time in a big black company helicopter. She's driven out to an isolated country estate of some sort that's pretty obviously Stage 1 for Demonlover.
Diane's led into a dungeon room, this one with a bed in it and left by herself with a few publicity photos of Diana Rigg from the Avengers (an homage, probably, or perhaps Assayas' way of establishing a link between his spy story and the Avengers' spy stories -- and Nielson does bear a certain resemblance to Diana Rigg).
Apparently figuring that now is the time for some exciting spy story stuff, Diane puts some furniture up against the door, which immediately begins to be pounded on by someone very powerful. Diane makes a desperate effort and escapes through a window, getting into a vehicle and making it to the open road, hotly pursued by Demonlover goons. In the course of escaping, Diane runs a vehicle full of innocent drivers-by off the road. Then the Demonlover goons go to the wreck and kill the survivors. Diane is recaptured shortly thereafter, or maybe she just gives up when she sees just how ruthless her new playpals are (you'd think she'd have twigged to this after her time in the dungeon).
Diane in her gimp suit. NOW look what a fine mess she's gotten into. But is that really Connie Nielsen, or a body double.
The last time we see Diane, she's being hustled into a dungeon room in a gimp suit and chained to a steel bed frame. Her arms are pinioned behind her back. Her hood is removed, and she stares about the room.
Then the scene switches to a suburban home. A teenaged boy has Demonlover up on his home computer, and when Dad comes home he lifts Dad's credit card so he can dictate what happens to Demonlover's victim du jour. When he gets back to his room with the credit card, the camera moves in on the monitor, and we see Diane in the monitor, chained to a bed in a gimp suit, gazing hopelessly about.
It's Connie, alrighty.
Now, I do not know what is so hard to understand about Demonlover, but just in case there are some mainstream reviewers reading this, I'll put it in a nutshell for you:
Volfsgrup is on to her identity as a corporate spy almost from the start -- her cover may already blown when we are first introduced to her, it is certainly blown when she drugs Karen -- that's what the "Forget Something?" note is all about.
Instead of firing Diane or turning her over to the cops, they start doing video surveillance of her to see what she does and find out who she works for, and get evidence against her and her employers while they're at it. When Diane kills Tilly in the catfight, they know they have her. They've been running the Demonlover site because the boss likes that kind of thing (fanwank on my part, but quite reasonable), and there's an inner cadre of Volfsgrup workers who are involved with it, including Herve, Elise, Karen and quite a few others.
Elise gives Diane the tape that shows they have evidence of Tilly's murder and forces her to agree to become Demonlover's plaything in exchange for not going to prison. Then it's off to the estate in a hood and cuffs for some dungeon fun aimed at breaking her psychologically. They're essentially recycling Diane. But Diane doesn't break that easily, and kills Volk in bed, so Diane is "reassigned" to the Demonlover dungeons full time for some unknown stretch of time. You have to figure she's going to be pretty thoroughly broken when they get through with her, if she survives it. The end.
Got it, mainstream reviewers? I'm really surprised I had to tell you this.
There's not a lot of inferring here, and what there is, is all easy, simple stuff which is well supported by the film.
Now, I think it was a real mistake not to show what happened to Diane when she was locked up in the dungeon, and not just because I'd like to see Connie Nielson having sex while bound (though admittedly, that's a big part of it). If we had seen enough of her mistreatment -- possibly involving drugs, torture and sex -- it might have explained how such an icy cool corporate spy turns into a submissive secretary and dungeon plaything. It also would have increased the dramatic power of the movie -- once you realize what's at stake for Diane, you might just care a little more what happens to her -- you'd sense her peril.
Or perhaps presenting the deliberate grinding-down of her personality through brutality would have made Demonlover a very different sort of film -- it wouldn't have had that distant coolness that the French seem to like in their films. (Or that French directors do -- a lot of French moviegoers watch mostly American films.)
As you can see, the film is very clear about what's going on, and from the beginning I was kinda baffled by all the confusion many reviewers seem to have about it. While it's not completely linear, it's hardly an art film.
When mainstream critics can't figure something that simple out, you just have to wonder. My suspicion is, all the BDSM distracted them. If they'd been accustomed to thinking of BDSM as just another plot element, they might have had less difficulty with it.
Maybe they were confused by Elise's character. She's definitely confusing. She starts out as a harried secretary. She shows signs of being a warm, caring person as she compassionately takes care of Karen. She even asks who is taking care of Karen's kid while she convalesces from her kidnapping.
But then she pulls a gun on Diane, just to scare her, apparently as a message from Karen. Now, that's employee loyalty. But then she turns out to be a Demonlover operative and we see her hauling Diane off, hooding her and cuffing her, to be tortured. Not REALLY what I'd call compassionate. And the fact that she's a Demonlover op also means she's probably been involved in other activities which have led to women being videoed while being chained to a bed frame and electro-shock and god knows what else.
It's even possible that Elise has spent some time chained to the bed frame being electro-shocked herself. Certainly, she's got the looks for it. Maybe Elise "graduated" from her position in chains on the bedframe to an executive office at Volfsgrup. (Hey, if Barbra Streisand's hairdresser can become the head of a major motion picture studio, ANYTHING is possible.)
And while Elise is doing all this skullduggery for Demonlover, we also see Elise trying to arrange for babysitting for her own kid. This is something you don't usually associate with high-powered villain's minions. It definitely leads you to wonder just how seriously the script takes its subject matter -- it's the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a parody, except that Demonlover has none of the trappings of parody.
The other main thing about Elise's character is that she's played by Chloe Sevigny, who doesn't have Nielsen's classic good looks, but there's just something about her that really makes you want to fuck her. Especially in the nude video gaming scene, where she stars out lying on the bed and then hikes her butt in the air, still with her weight on her elbows and her hands running the video game controller, like she's taking it doggie style while she plays. You have to figure Sevigny was hanging her womanly goodies out big time for the crew to see during that scene, but somehow I don't think it bothered her in the least -- and that's not just because I know she gained quite a bit of notoriety for giving her co-star a real, not fake, blowjob in the movie Brown Bunny. There's just something about the way she carries herself that makes you want to fuck her.
Chloe Sevigny nude. Mmmm, fuckable.
There's a lot going on in Demonlover beyond what we've already mentioned. There are references to other films --- the web dungeon scenes look enough like the torture scenes in Videodrome that it led some poeple to call the film a remake of Videodrome. I don't think it's close to being that -- there are some similar plot points and some thematic similarities, but in Videodrome the medium is the message, but in Demonlover the message is all about -- identity.
There's all sorts of evidence of this. For starters, Diane, the protagonist of the story, is a person without an identity. We never learn her real name or who she really is, just the cover she tried unsuccessfully to use with Volfsgrup. Presumably she does have a real identity and interests of her own -- she has a Swiss bank account that her spy money is sent to, you have to figure she wants to use it for something. But we never get any sense that she has any family or friends, or any real interests other than swimming, which is clearly done for symbolic reasons. (When Diane swims it's foreshadowing -- linking her to the anime heroine seen tossed into the water while bound and gagged and tormented by electric eels, just as Diane will eventually be tormented by electric shocks while bound to a bedframe).
The anime heroine is bound and tormented by electric eels, just as Diane will eventually be bound and tormented by electric shocks. A nice bit of foreshadowing.
By the end of Demonlover, Diane has completely lost her identity -- she is "Zora" the electronic plaything of any Hellfire member who wants her. Her willingness to be whatever or whoever she has to be in order to succeed in the world of high-stakes corporate espionage has left her sitting in gimp suit, chained to a bed in a dungeon, her only companion the webcam that transmits her suffering and the torturers who provoke it -- her ability to suffer and (presumably) to be used sexually are the only things her corporate masters now want or need from her.
There are hints that this fate is one that, at some level, Diane herself has been seeking. During the meeting with Karen after the kidnapping, when Karen sees that Diane is logged onto the Hellfire website she says, "I see that you have found what you were looking for." Later, Karen tells Diane that she has come to warn Diane, but she sees that she is too late. And in the earlier scene where Elise points a gun at Diane in the car, this is identified by Elise as a warning from Karen.
What else could Karen have been planning to warn Diane about within that context, except the Hellfire Club site? And why would Karen think Diane was "seeking" the Hellfire Club and need warning about it? It would likely be that Karen knew someone like Diane was a very strong potential candidate for Zorahood.
Now, how would Karen know that unless she knew exactly how the Hellfire Club got its victims? Perhaps from personal experience?
Throughout Demonlover we are confronted with issues of identity, and those who have the strongest identities seem to do the best. Diane the spy winds up chained to an electrocution frame. Herve the corporate shark winds up dead, as does Tilly the American corporate shark. Karen who attempts to warn her kidnapper is on her way out ... but at least she appears to have a way out in the form of what is presumably a VERY comfortable retirement to Volfsgrup's real estate division.
And mysterious Elise, who persecutes Diane but cares tenderly for her wounds afterward, who is concerned about seeing that her and Karen's kids get babysitting while Mommy is committing skullduggery, apparently gets a nice promotion. She's arguably the most complex and contradictory character in the story, and I'm not just saying that because I find Chloe Sevigny to be so fucking fuckable.
Assayas is the only filmmaker whose work even marginally touches on what I consider one of the most interesting aspects of D/S sex -- its remarkable SUBVERSIVENESS when it comes to the power relationships. The workplace has always been about unequal power relationships, with a boss who tells you what you have to do, like it or not, or maybe you're somebody's boss who has to try to get them to do what you want them to do, like it or not. In BDSM the theory is that the submissive or bottom or bondagee or slave or whomever GIVES power to the dominant or top or bondage or master or whomever. The theory is that power is not taken, it is given, and can be taken away.
Not a message most bosses and owners are likely to want to hear.
And now Assayas comes along and intertwines a story about a website where women are ruthlessly dominated and made to submit to various experiences whether they like them or not with a storyline about dominance and submission behavior at the top of the corporate hierarchy. If Assayas had followed this theme more closely and drawn a few more parallels between workplace dominance and submission, he very likely would have had a very powerful film. But this element of Demonlover is not sufficiently well developed to really "make" the film. In conjuction with its other major flaw, this was enough to sink the film at the box office, in my humble opinion.
For a counterexample, look at Secretary, with its witty intertwiining of a dominance/submission sexual relationship with a boss/secretary relationship, and its subversive theme that the secretary is the strong of the two characters, because she understands their needs better than her boss does.
The OTHER major flaw in Demonlover is that it attempts to make its point about the effect that corporate life has on identity when Assayas knows practically nothing about corporate life. What's more, Assayas clearly knows little or nothing about the Web or anime, two other major plot elements. This appalling lack of research lends a rickety feel to the whole movie that runs directly counter to the movie's cool, slick technocorporate surface.
This is not a nitpicking matter -- when the bulk of the movie has to do with corporate skullduggery in edgy Web and media ventures, it just blows the hell out of the movie's cred when the people who made it clearly know a lot less about Internet Web porn than your average moviegoer. I mean, "secret, hard to find websites" like Hellfire Club that can be accessed by a teen on his father's stolen credit card? C'mon, any Internet biz that's a business needs to promote itself, something that's generally antithetical to the whole "secrecy" thing.
I mean, does anyone think porn sites on the net are hiding themselves from view? Jeebus, do ya think Assayas spent even fifteen minutes sitting at a computer browsing the Web before he made this movie?
And the pity of it is, it wouldn't have been all that hard to credibly put all these elements into play in just the way Assayas wanted to put them into play. Frex, most of the ignorance about the Web could have been dispensed with by saying it had a fake location in Russia (where laws against anything that makes money are very loosely enforced, especially if some of that money goes to the right people) and by making it clear that the Demonlover site (and the 3D hentai buy) were personal interests of the firm's owner which wouldn't have all that much of an effect on the balance sheets. There's plenty of precedent for business owners following their cocks into Pussyland: can anyone say, "Hughes Aircraft"? That would have done it, and it wouldn't have changed the nature of the story that much at all.
This would also have dumped the ignorance about biz to a large extent, so viewers wouldn't have to hear the lines about Demonlover being the hot new property for Volfsgrup and think, "If a firm like Smith-Barney needs to make big bucks, it's gonna have to look at something a little bigger than a buyout of the SM equivalent of Danni's Hot Box."
In fact, one could even come up with a credible explanation for the personal relationship many of the staff seem to have with the Hellfire site by saying that Volf regards Hellfire as a sort of Outward Bound for the would-be execs at his firm (Outward Bondage?) which gives him either super-submissive or super-dominant employees (depending on their role and Hellfire) either of whom he can use in his business. And anybody who thinks there isn't a great deal of sadism and dominance involved in making employees go through that Outward Bound shit needs to get their bondage radar tuned.
So these flaws, annoying as they are, would have been really easy to fix without changing the tone or meaning of the movie at all -- improving it, in fact, by making it a great deal more credible.
Even with its flaws, Demonlover is still quite the fascinating movie, if only because it's one of the very few mainstream movies with a strong bondage theme that it's not painful to watch with your brain activated. It's a largely undiscovered gem of a film, so get out there and discover it.
Another example of Assayas' wrongness ... the cutting-edge 3D hentai that Volfsgrup is after ... does anyone recognize this butt? It's that Poser-looking babe from Virtual Star 2000! I mean, she's good, but she's not ... cutting edge.
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