REMEDY (2013) was directed by Cheyenne Picardo which was inspired from her experiences as a pro-domme and pro-sub in an NYC dungeon. This low budget indie project has the feel of a documentary style narrative and when reading up on the film, a Sony PMW-EX3s camera was used on the project which is also commonly used on reality T.V. shows and documentaries.
Peering into the world of a professional dominatrix and unmasking the realities that unfold is fairly spellbinding not in the sense of kinky sex fetishes but in the emotional toll that develops within Remedy our main protagonist played by Kira Davies.
This isn’t a romance story by any means but it’s the world of BDSM which is seriously complex in the depth of honesty, sensitivity accompanied by stylistic visuals of the underbelly into the psyche’s darkest fantasies. There’s nothing severely agonizing like tying a man’s balls together but, instead this is given to us from a character’s dialogue which was fairly humorous. It almost reminded me of being at Knott’s Scary Farm wandering through the creepy mazes of horror, you never really knew what was around the next corner. Similarly, in Remedy’s case she never knew exactly what fantasy she’d be walking into whenever a new paying customer came knocking at her door. We get that image of her throughout the film walking down a mysteriously dim lit hallway almost as if it were some ceremonious voyage into the beyond. It’s partially terrifying especially when she in some of her experiences is the sub and not the dom. Which I didn’t realize was an option as I assumed it was strictly about a dominatrix being a dominatrix.
In the beginning as Remedy in one of her earliest sessions of being a dom, she attempts to tie her sub but instead her sub teaches her which brings an endearing moment to the screen. Instead, being frustrated and mortified she’s open to letting the sub teach her how to correctly tie a person’s wrists together. It was touching human moment.
Later on, there’s a scene where a businessman enters the dungeon who pays to be the dom and Remedy becomes his sub. It begins with her being stripped down to her underwear where he commands her to dance slowly while calling her a cheap whore. Ouch! But remember he’s the dom and this is a fantasy people! You can see the turmoil and uncertainty on Remedy’s face. You could sense her fear when the business man chains her up by the wrists and begins to flog her across the back by doing so with an air of suspense. Now, if you compared this scene to the Fifty Shades of Grey moment where Anastasia gets flogged relentlessly by Christian, this one takes the cake strictly from an authentic and apprehensive standpoint. As a viewer my nerves were jarred simply by the torture which some might be repulsed by however, I was encompassed by the close proximity slightly transfixed into a bed of claustrophobia. I get it’s only a movie, but the tonal atmosphere of the scene was beyond persuasive. Then I remember this is a dungeon and the primal use is to convince you there is no escape which I believe enhances the sensation for most paying patrons.
In all honesty I was fascinated by Picardo’s depiction of BSDM and sweetly contented by her approach because it’s a genuine experience not necessarily a story that doesn’t need the fixings of a major Hollywood narrative where it’s exhausting in it’s predictability. This is that little film clothed with tenacity cradled by force in being seen and understood for what it is and not what’s perceived to be. It’s not easy to dispel the emotions that go behind what these doms and subs go through and as the tagline reads, “Pain is Money”. Yes, it’s a job that people legally get paid to do and just like any other job there’s some unpleasantness that come with it’s territory.
There’s a certain elegance that garnishes and brings this film to life gathering all the elements of its mise-én-scene; from the timing of the music, lighting, obscure camera angles, with the assortment of unusual props such as the whip and condoms used for gloves creates a profound atmospheric milieu. To top it off with a stellar performance by Kira Davies which happens to be her first feature film is the heart of the journey simply based on a dare she became enlightened by the allure BSDM’s fierce culture of strange fetishes while maintaining a certain sanity remaining true to herself. I not only praise Picardo for achieving the consummation of creating a film but for remaining true to her daring vision and subject as a filmmaker something that French director Catherine Breillat earns as well. What can I say? I have an inquisitive soul in the realm of masochistic tendencies as I’m fascinated by the dichotomy of pleasure and pain.