Fetishes (1996) - Review


The work is of sympathetic magic: showing a thing being felt in front of the camera, and not acted, runs deep into the mind of the audience – even when we are completely disassociated from the act itself (after all, it's only a movie). The effect is one of an intensely energetic connection with the image, by pulling at the dormant senses (touch / taste / smell) by way of sight / sound. These senses are simply waiting to be engaged because of our private associations and instinctive biological empathies. This movie illustrates how the entire sensory realm is intimately reachable with the cinema. Nick Broomfield is at top form with this document of an upscale professional domination BDSM studio in Manhattan.


I don't understand why the urge is with me. It's very real, it's as real as the real world that I walked in from tonight, which is the business world. And then when I walk out of this world, I walk back into the real world again. It's somehow like the internal clock in your body. Almost like it's a drive. It's a drive that has to be satisfied. And it's an insatiable drive. It's insatiable like the fantasies are insatiable. You never fulfill the said fantasy, or you think you get the best one and then you do it, and then two weeks later you think of something better.
It's an insatiable drive.


A note, however, regarding the emotional reaction(s) of the submissives themselves: despite the amount of precaution taken by the company, Pandora's Box (i.e.: the safety word "mercy," which guarantees the submissive complete control of the experience at its most elementary level), those who engage still become overwhelmingly reactive; intensifying their breathing, dramatic atmospheric-shifts in the room, rushes of adrenaline, exhibiting genuine fear and / or pleasure.

Yet all of these fantasies played out are knowingly illusions: one could even say, regarding Fetishes (1996) specifically, an illusion within an illusion (stage-plays within a film).

I normally ask myself while watching any movie, "But why am I becoming swept-up emotionally at the sight of silly people pretending to do silly things in front of a camera?"

Fetishes is a perfect example of how existence is, primarily, an aesthetic experience.

We're immersed in the narrative because the visceral images make vivid something that's always there within us (yet invisible), hitting our psyches like a genuinely lived experience.

This one-two punch of the Vivid & Visceral sensory experience captivates our attention

Click here to see >> Fetishes (1996) directed by Nick Broomfield.

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Fetishes (1996)