Director: Zach Ziglom
Starring: Margaret Qualley, Christopher Abbott
Distributor: Kismet
Runtime: 95 mins. Reviewed in Aug 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong sexual themes

A hotel room encounter between an executive, Hal, and dominatrix Rebecca, and the disaster that ensues when Hal tries to end the relationship.

This is a psychodrama. It could also serve as a dramatic illustration of a psychosexual situation. It is a two-hander and practically all of the action takes place in a hotel room – some moments outside the room in the corridor and an opening elevator. The invitation for the audience is to observe, possibly identify with one or other of the characters, reflect on the interactions, the interdependency, the future of the characters.

The film opens with the young business executive, Hal (Abbott), with a business-looking blonde young woman, Rebecca (Qualley) entering and going through the details of a legal contract with him. But Hal begins to object to the questions – and it emerges that he wrote the whole scenario and dialogue himself. The two are in a role-play, created by Hal, performed, ever more independently by Rebecca.

What we are shown is a dominatrix situation, Rebecca employed by Hal who feels he has been belittled, underestimated by his successful father (seen in a photograph with his son). The issue is Hal’s inadequacy as a person, and the connection of this inadequacy with his sexuality. Interestingly, in terms of understanding himself, it is Hal who writes the various scenarios, seeming to have some insight into himself but then dependent on Rebecca’s responses.

As the film progresses, Rebecca seems to assert more independence from Hal and the written scenarios.

Since this is a psychodrama, all options are open however practical, pragmatic or non-pragmatic they might be in reality. And the final question, the final image, what is the real relationship between Hal and Rebecca.

Which means that this psychosexual exploration may have limited interest and appeal, especially because of the claustrophobic confinement.

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