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DVD Review: ‘Story of O: Untold Pleasures’

★☆☆☆☆

The Story of O: Untold Pleasures (2002), directed with a heavy hand by Phil Leirness, is about a jobbing photographer who dreams of producing an avant-garde art book. ‘O’ (Danielle Ciardi) has a tennis coach boyfriend, Rene (Max Parrish), who’s about as charming as a cold sore. One night he gives her a playful smack on the backside. This is a foretaste of what is in store for his ladylove. On a romantic weekend in a beautiful mansion, she is initiated in some less than romantic sex games. Rene introduces O to benefactor, Sir Stephen (Neil Dickson), a man who appears to have been knighted for his services to not blinking.

Sir Stephen is both an art connoisseur and an S&M aficionado, and explains the rules – he will finance O’s book if she agrees to be his slave. She submits and is taken away to be dressed, reappearing in something Carrie-Anne Moss’s Trinity in the Matrix cycle might have worn had she ever been invited to a ball. O quickly moves from enjoying playful slaps to dishing out punishment with a cat o’ nine tails. Admittedly, much of the hanky panky entails spanking, whipping and paddling, so pretty much variations on a theme. The real problem with this film is that we never see anybody having fun during all the sexual shenanigans and there is no sense of playful glee at all that nooky up for grabs. So much for the joy of sex.

After complications at the workplace and in her love life, O agrees to be tortured for a million dollars. She takes everything Sir Stephen can give and he breaks before she does, realising he has found his dream woman. But O just wants to take the money and run. Only when her protégée pulls up in the driveway does O realise she must return in order to protect her. There’s a bit more torture and O and Sir Stephen live happily ever after.

To complain about porn actors being wooden is a cheap shot, but they are. Though with nary a penis in sight, we can’t be 100% sure. Ciardi is truly terrible in the title role but she is not alone. If the cast don’t look like they are having fun, how can the viewer be expected to? What The Story of O: Untold Pleasures needs is a little bit more tickle to go with all that slap.

Jo-Ann Titmarsh