Going Under is mustier than Secretary. Like Steven Shainberg’s trite 2002 dramedy starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal, director Eric Werthman’s film can’t help but scrutinize the S&M subculture through a psychoanalytic mirror. One film believes it’s the first to grapple with the subject, the other thinks it’s the first to imply sadists and masochists have feelings too. In Going Under, Peter (Roger Rees), a 60-plus-year-old psychotherapist, no longer feels the rules of the naughty, red-sometimes-green-roomed netherworld he frequents apply to him after he declares his affections for his thick-accented dominatrix, Suzanne (Geno Lechner), whose apartment is more like a photo gallery of pretentious snapshots of her state of mind. She reciprocates his feelings but turns combative when they try to take their relationship into the outside world. “You don’t sleep with your patients,” she shoots back after he asks to cross the boundary of their master-slave divide. Lechner credibly evinces Suzanne’s feelings about never feeling comfortable enough to get past how she met Peter, but while the flame-out of their relationship is reasonably well acted, the film arrogantly approaches their dominant-submissive power exchange like a psychopathia sexualis to be studied and pitied for its emotionally clogging effects. But given the film’s chilly body of evidence, it’s as if the filmmakers have more hang-ups about sex than their characters.
- Argot Pictures
- 98 min
- Eric Werthman
- Jessica Gohlke, Vlad Nikolic
- Roger Rees, Geno Lechner, Kit Flanagan, Sara Ramirez, Miho Nikaido, Richard Egan
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