Femdom Movie Review: Dogs Don’t Wear Pants

TL;DR Verdict:

Oneric *deeply* dark romantic comedy. Expect fucked up visuals and a view into kink as filthy. Protagonist is super unhealthy, but this is in the camp as “Secretary” more so than “The Piano Teacher”.

Now for a more detailed review…

Boy meets girl, boy obsessed over unhealthy behaviours, girl is attracted to his pain and feels connection through sadism, boy has midlife crisis connected to inability to cope with death of wife, boy gets a fucking clue and sort of emerges from cocoon of self destruction.

Unlike cheerful romps like “Walk All Over Me” or “Preaching to the Perverted”, this one is trying to say something a bit deeper about humanity, at least in the artistic tradition of an upper middle class, middle aged man having a full on melt down while getting laid.

Juha is a slim, attractive but a bit goofy heart surgeon who loses his wife in the first act. It’s important here to take the scenes as his fractured psyche/fantasy assembling memory- as he imagines/experiences trying to save her from drowning and being pulled back from joining her by the demands of caring for his toddler daughter.

Thus we see him as comparing himself to a caught fish, choking in the bottom of a fisherman’s boat. Early scenes are important to establish Juha as having redeeming qualities- it uses a lot of show don’t tell to let you know what is going on and you are about to watch him completely fall apart for an hour.

I cannot review this without spoilers, so you are duly warned that I will probably deconstruct this enough to spoil some of the shock comedy gags.

The biggest criticism here is the level of emphasis on harder kinks and unhealthy behaviours. I would absaloutely not use this as an introduction to BDSM or how it works, I would put it in the camp of a hyperbolic reminder to feel and have charity with yourself on how you arrive there.

The literal kick off of Juha’s BDSM journey is him going with his teenage daughter so she can get her tongue pierced. Leaving the room during it, he stumbles into the BDSM dungeon in the back of the studio and has Mona, the dominant stumble on him snooping, knock him to the ground and restrain him with a crop to his throat. They are interrupted by his daughter and Mona vanishes, allowing a dazed Juha to wander home with only a bruised thumb to let him know it was real. Meanwhile we see hints of stuff- the spark of chemistry between himself and his daughter’s music teacher, the invitation of his work colleague to play tennis- Juha has been suppressing his grief to function for the daughter and she has now hit her coming of age point that he is no longer essential to her survival. All those careful blocks built on staying upright are no longer needed.

He finds and books a session with Mona, who is stand offish, vulgar and explicit. We don’t see what he requests or negotiates, but watch him blush his way through a first scene where she makes him into a dog, and straps him into a chair, before suffocating him with a plastic bag, using a large glossy blue marble in his hand as a safe signal to drop into a metal bowl.

We watch Mona doing some amazingly well acted sadism joy- she feels intensely connected to him, feeling his struggles. We learn she is doing this for the love of it, not the money

Juha finds a moment as he suffocates, under water, connecting with his drowned wife. Afterwards he melts down into sobbing, naked mess, after Mona has departed back to her dressing room. Pay attention to gaze here- we are supposed to read into Mona picking up on this.

Up until this point he has been a meticulous if dorky, doting single father, who masturbates in secret with his dead wife’s clothes pressed over his face in a cloud of her perfume. The unwinding is fast- assume a time skip of Mona and he having escalating sessions. Next time, popping out of the water-vision, with her in his lap he dazedly tries to kiss her, she pulls back, kisses him passionately and smacks him, rapidly fleeing to her dressing room.

This time he tries to apologize- feeling he has transgressed a boundary and wasn’t in his right mind. Mona, for her part had been doing a lot of nose to nose almost kissing as the actors have phenomenal chemistry- now she stares him down to chase him off as her ramble apologizes and backs away, finishing with a well timed, equally awkward “Bye”.

(I have been there- feeling intensely connected to someone I am topping, but not wanting to change the dynamic of the moment.)

We learn that Mona, outside her makeup and blunt cut wigs, is a physiotherapist, and we see parallels to her work in scene, hoisting someone into the air in a rig designed to help them heal or holding a literally spastic child, tenderly, in a pool as they flail. Again, pay attention to the visual cues- Mona in these scenes also has skin tight or shiny black in her clothing- this is who she is. We are supposed to understand her dominatrix garb is more her than a projected fantasy of the clients, notable that she acquires a learher harness for him.

In the mean time, Juha is failing to pay attention in his relationship with his daughter and spacing out at work, disassociating as his mental health spirals. Brushing off the concerns of both close coworker/friend and daughter, his crazy hits a crescendo when he leaves work early to see Mona, punching out a window on the way and missing his daughter’s much emphasized concert. He has failed as both doctor and father and with a lacerated palm, rushes to chase the high of being with his wife in his strangle-space.

This time things go terribly wrong- the marble breaks in his hand, and Mona, his wife’s dress over her dominatrix garb, uses her medical skills to revive him before fleeing and summoning an ambulance.

Mona, for her part, is understandably shaken. She refuses to see him anymore and like an addict, he stalks her, begging for another session. She, meanwhile, is clearly rattled beyond that- a brief reminder if another client’s dog mask derails a scene and she burns her hands protecting another client from taking real harm. Her coworker who runs bookings chides her maybe she needs something else and Mona admits no, this is the life she wants.

[Bechdel test count 1!]

Juha continues to humiliate himself and destroy his relationships by failing to open up, getting himself into increasing trouble until finally Mona snaps that she will see him, but only in exchange for pain past imagining. He follows her home to her apartment where, without her wigs, and joined by the intrusion of her yappy miniature poodle, she rips out one of his canine teeth. She then winds his face in plastic wrap, and begins to suffocate him, only to break down crying. She isn’t going to kill him and refuses to. He comforts her.

She kisses him, and in parallel to their earlier kiss, he gives her a tap on the face and leaves, with her staring moodily out the window and cursing him.

Juha goes to his daughter, only to find by now she has found herself some real rebellion and a boyfriend, and seeing her rather worse for the wear dad, he confesses he has “met a nice lady”. She scoffs, but it is clear that although damage has been done to their trust, he is back to being her father as she finishes growing up. Similarly Juha passes his psych evaluation to go back to work, and reconnects with his friend by joking that he lied to the psychiatrist. (Basically admitting what his friend needed to hear, that he *is* fucked up).

Our final act shows Juha go to a BDSM club where, while stalking Mona, he had previously been denied entrance. This time he goes, with the harness he got from Mona under his jacket allowing him to pass the door troll. After several drinks, and watching people play, he goes to the dance floor to dance poorly, and Mona emerges. They lock gaze and both smile.

So. Nobody should be ripping out anyone’s teeth, but what is going on here is the kink allowing him to first feel something. Inversely Mona needs to feel like he is there to submit to her, not treating her as a conduit to his dead wife.

Also everyone in this film needs to lock their doors and respect boundaries better. But, most romantic comedies depend on concessions on both and the film can be forgiven for a few style choices.

As a dominant, my ability to connect with my partners is, by paradox, some of the most vulnerable feelings I have and I was able to empathise with Mona’s longing. In my case, although they did not mean it, ultimately the inability of past partners to connect across this psychosexual thing was intensely wounding- yet a pain you cannot really talk about because of the masking demands of a show of power, you cannot really beg for a “true” surrender.

I also can’t tell you if the moments after Mona smiling are a traditional HEA, or if she is content to have seen him hauled out of the hell of his grief- but I can tell you that they are both where they need to be, and sometimes that is enough.

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