Lilith Likes to Watch - The Image (AKA The Punishment of Anne)

Title: The Image (AKA The Punishment of Anne AKA The Mistress and the Slave)
Year: 1975
Starring: Rebecca Brooke, Carl Parker, Marilyn Roberts
Director: Radley Metzger
Synopsis: The story of middle-aged Jean, a writer, who meets an old friend, Claire, a lesbian and also middle-aged, and is soon drawn into her world of sadomasochism, in which they torture Claire's youthful slave, Anne.
(via Wikipedia)
Lilith's Notes: It's considered a staple of "Porno Chic".

A few years ago when Fifty Shades of Grey hit the scene, there was concern that it was espousing an unhealthy idea of BDSM, that it encouraged people to enter the fetish scene without fully comprehending the rules of the lifestyle. Even the author of the series has out and out admitted that she just found it hot, with no deeper meaning of the lifestyle.

36 years before Fifty Shades was published, The Image hit the scene, and completely ignored all the Safe, Sane and Consensual rules. Safe words don't exist in this relationship.

This is a tricky one. It has some sequences that push all my personal fetish buttons, but there's just whole chunks of story missing. This is not a story about a healthy BDSM lifestyle, but rather a tale of cruelty and abuse.

We never understand how Claire acquired Anne, nor why Anne agreed to be Claire's slave. We never get to see how Claire and Anne decide to let Jean into their little arrangement. We can infer that Claire loves Jean, and Jean is infatuated with Anne, but it all culminates into a very brutal and confusing climax. You get the feeling that Anne has no idea why she's being punished, and neither does the audience. There is absolutely no love, or ever fondness in this film. Just viciousness.

There are some shots of beauty in this movie, though they are few and far between.

Rebecca Brooke does very well as Anne, her eyes and body language convey a passivity without seeming vacuous. At the same time, a dozen micro-expressions float across her features as Anne is preparing to be whipped. Confusion, excitement, satisfaction, fear. And when her face contorts into pain it's extremely believable, to an uncomfortable degree.

Anne seems sweet and kind and she doesn't deserve this punishment because it's not out of love or enjoyment on her part. She especially doesn't deserve the raw and savagery. In the end, the two abusive shitheads end up together. The movie closes with Jean and Claire fucking on a staircase. We don't even get to see Anne enjoy her new found freedom.

I think ultimately it's a story about jealousy but I guess something was lost in translation.

This is my second time watching this movie and I'm still just as confused as before.

LILITH'S SCORE: 3.5/5 - It's a bit better than fine.