Last night, a series of events happened that resulted in me having a surprise opening in my time and space to do with as I wanted. Given that all of my final projects are completed for next week’s deadlines and I have had a crazy week, I didn’t want to do anything strenuous or invigorating. It was cold outside. I had just left a place where they were having hot chocolate and steaming apple cider, so I had the urge to make some cocoa of my own and snuggle into blankets.
It seemed to be the perfect night to watch a movie.
I logged into my hulu.com account and browsed through the selection of free movies. I was looking for something romantic and sweet, thanks to a friend who had been facebooking about her experience with Some Kind of Wonderful and so that’s what I set out to find. (Never mind the fact that I actually own the dvd of Some Kind of Wonderful and I could have just watched that.) There was something calling to me from within the movies there, so I hunted for it. One movie thumbnail caught my eye and I read the description. It was intriguing, judging by the blurb:
Now… I will admit, the whole topic of sexuality in the movie, Secret Things, was intriguing and drew me in. The craftily designed thumbnail (as you can see to the left) wasn’t really a lot of indication of what was to come, but the storyline was intriguing. (Had I seen the version of the movie poster from France prior to watching it, I may have thought twice about it) And it made no mention anywhere that it was in french, but no big deal. I like foreign films, so bring it on.
(from this point on, there are plot spoilers so if you have any desire to watch this movie without it being blown, skip to the asterisks *** below)
I was not prepared for the explicit nature of the film, which opens with the stripper doing a solo act of fully-nude, fully-frontal masturbation on the stage with artistic lighting effects for all to witness. Yeehaw! I’m a big girl. I can handle this, I was thinking. I didn’t turn it off.
I thought the part in the introduction blurb about Christophe’s girlfriends setting themselves on fire was just metaphorical. Nope. Wasn’t prepared for that reality either, which showed up in the last few moments of the film. And I wasn’t at all prepared for the incestuous nature of the relationship between Christophe and his sister, which also revealed itself in the last 5 minutes.
I could handle the well-acted, easily-hated, highly-perverse, inhumane nature of the Christophe character. I could handle the fully-nude lesbian, hot sex scenes. I could handle the far less explicit, and somewhat lame heterosexual scenes, where everyone was still practically fully clothed. I could even handle the massive and explicit orgy scenes near the end of the show.
But, I was really bothered by the scheming and plotting of Nathalie and Sandrine to use their creative power, their sultry sexual abilities to lure unsuspecting men – really goodhearted men – to their demise. The women planned exactly which business they wanted to work for and investigated the business to uncover the men of power within the organization. They chose their prey. They set up rules of engagement. And then they went about manipulating, lying and conniving to get to who they wanted to get to. Then they dismantled the man’s life by weaving him into a web of deceit and the tantalizing withholding and delivering of sex.
It was appalling to watch their coldhearted approach to their plan. It was disheartening to witness their complete disregard for humans, as well as the eventual degradation of the two women. The movie exploded into all forms of human debasement in the final scenes, at which I stared at the screen in slack-jawed horror and utter disbelief that they had gone “that far” in a movie: the consummation of Christophe’s incestuous relationship, the gang rape of Sandrine and the attempt at suicide by Nathalie – involving 2 gallons of gas and an unlit match – which culminated in the brutal shooting death of Christophe.
I’ll admit, I’ve watched porn before and I’ve seen orgy scenes. When I have, I have had a little niggle that has eaten at the core of me until I turn off the movie moments later. It’s just not something I’m interested in or even curious about. This movie, however, had me rooted in my seat. I simply had to watch it all the way through. And I think that is because I had to witness – which was projected really convincingly by all of the actors, I might add – the utter destruction of a person when they are willing to give up that which makes them human. When they are willing to disregard their emotions, purposely turn them off and willingly seek to destroy another in the purposeful climb to power.
I felt so sad as I watched the systematic dismantling of Sandrine’s values and morals as Nathalie coached her through the education of using her feminine wiles to destroy other human beings. It was horrifying to witness the power of destruction that was woven through their deceit and how, once they were in “the game,” they could not help themselves out. The two women were trapped by their own doing and as the situation spiraled deeper, they found themselves careening down a sharply-tilted, well-oiled, smooth hill into the deepest, darkest hell where all that makes us human has been stripped and replaced with behaviors and thought processes that are even further dehumanizing.
I wanted to cry as the destruction of the life of Sandrine’s prey played out on the screen. Even worse was the monologue Sandrine had in her thoughts after he called her to tell her she had been the one bright spot in his life and he loved her. After all she had purposely done, after all her lying, he loved her. He had believed she was in the relationship and loved him back. She had lied well enough to convince him of it, even though she was really a vicious cat playing with a mouse. She shared as though she was writing in her journal, “He loved me in a way I would never understand. A love that required nothing of me, not even my presence. He fully loved me and did not seek revenge. I should have been touched. Instead, I thought him weak.”
My stomach turned.
This film was an excellent study in the ways of humans and how the seeking of power can thoroughly destroy one’s humanity. It portrayed the effects of childhood trauma, the human need for love and connection, as well as the far too common thirst for power. I ached at the end of watching it and, at the same time, felt so grateful I had endured it because it was another element of proof to me about some of the things I’ve always felt.
Sex, for me, has never been a weapon even though I’ve always sensed that it is the ultimate power. It is the culmination of the Divine power of creation within us. It is, literally, our God Power because we create through the act of sex. I’ve also come to understand the power of loving myself enough to know that it is not okay for me to disregard another’s experience of life. It is not okay for me to lie and cheat my way to the top. And, mostly, I know that, for me, quenching the thirst for money and power through dishonest means has never been my path.
While this movie was startling in its explicit nature and content, I am grateful I spent the two hours watching it so I could come out of it with a greater appreciation of myself and the way I have lived my life. This reinforcement came at the perfect time… a time when I’m considering going against myself to take a job that I hate in order to make ends meet. It’s a simple example of betraying myself, but it’s betrayal nonetheless and it is that self-betrayal that is the first step on the road to destruction.