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MY MISTRESS

SYNOPSIS: An infatuation between the vulnerable teenage romantic Charlie (Harrison Gilbertson) and S&M mistress Maggie (Emmanuelle Bˇart) soon becomes something more dangerous.

Review by Louise Keller:
Sex, desire and pain are the themes of this coming of age story in which black leather, whips and the luscious red lips of a French seductress are the forbidden fruit for a besotted teenager. Stephen Lance's debut feature (co-written with Gerard Lee) is like a wet dream - a fantasy scenario that titillates but never quite reaches a satisfactory climax, despite two impressive performances by Harrison Gilbertson as the obsessed teen and Emmanuelle Beart as the provocative and shapely mistress.

The all-important set up takes place with no dialogue. Revelation of finding his father hanging in the garage; the kiss his mother gives to a best friend after the funeral... that is the beginning, when Charlie Boyd (Blake) starts taking notice of Maggie, the mysterious woman who lives in the large house behind tall gates, where men come and go in the shadows. 'Are you a witch; do you put spells on people?' Charlie asks Maggie, to which she suggests a freezing shower, whisky and an incantation.

They don't want it, they need it; I make them forget their private pain, she tells Charlie of the handcuffed men she whips, clad in sexually rousing black wig and leather. She has agreed to employ him to help look after the garden, although of course, the gardening is the least of Charlie's concern. The sheer curtain from her bedroom window that dances in the breeze is centre of his focus; he manages to peer in windows and doors, watching. She even hides him in a coffin with a peek hole at one point so he can get a better view. His stated addiction and desire to be around her is all pretty silly and the garden scene in which she serves afternoon tea on a silver tray, slapping and whipping him when he fails to say 'please' to her question about sugar is laughable. We also find out that she started smacking people when she was a teacher and that she was especially good at square roots.

Unsurprisingly there is tension at home between Charlie and his mother (Rachael Blake), with Charlie telling Maggie 'I just want to be around you all the time; I think you're amazing.' What are amazing are Beart's pouting red lips with their exaggerated cupid bows. The exchanges are forced and the focus shift from S & M to that of Maggie's past and her child, from whom she has been separated never sits comfortably. It is this conversion from mistress to friend that fails to convince and by the time things reach a climax - so to speak - the resolution feels like a letdown after the promise of so much in the set up.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

MY MISTRESS (MA15+)
(Aust, 2014)

CAST: Emmanuelle Bˇart, Harrison Gilbertson, Rachael Blake, Socratis Otto

PRODUCER: Leanne Tonkes, Stephen Kearney

DIRECTOR: Stephen Lance

SCRIPT: Gerard Lee, Stephen Lance

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Geoffrey Simpson

EDITOR: Jill Bilcock

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Matthew Crocker

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Transmission

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 6, 2014







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