German helmer Monika Treut’s ongoing journey through the outer reaches of feminism and sexuality reaches “Didn’t Do It for Love,” a portrait of Norwegian-born actress-turned-sex therapist Eva Norvind, whose powerful personality triumphs over the no-budget docu’s technical and structural shortcomings. Cable and outre fest slots are the snug homes for this often fascinating item, which is as frank in approach to its subject matter as the lady herself.
Norvind is a remarkable example of a woman who’s reinvented herself at least four times during her 50-odd years. Born Eva Johanne Chegodayeva Sakonskaya in 1944, the daughter of a Russian prince and Finnish sculptress, the big-boned Nordic beauty first hopped a bus from New York, where she was studying, to Mexico, where she arrived penniless and decided to stay. As it was the ’60s, and she “was blond and had big tits,” the sexually outspoken Scandi quickly carved a career as Eva Norvind in trashy Mexican pics like “Tonight No,” “Jan Pistoles” and “Blood Pact,” while discovering she was turned on by having sex for money with a local pol.
After being deported from Mexico (though in fact secretly staying in the country), she disappeared from public sight, had a daughter and got a scholarship to study film at NYU. Mixing in Gotham’s media circles as a party hostess, she developed an interest in S&M and, in 1987, as Ava Taurel, set up her own company — with sessions starting at $300 an hour — and even appeared on TV publicizing her therapeutic wares under the tag “out of the dungeon and into the classroom.” More recently, she’s moved into academia and criminal psychology. Next step for Eva? Religion and philosophy, she opines.
Treut dutifully assembles the usual suspects for such a docu — family, friends, film colleagues, even a shrink — but her ace card is Eva herself, a smart self-publicist and extrovert but one who slowly wins over the viewer with her genuinely untrammeled, guilt-free theories on sexuality and personal fulfillment. In Norvind’s mind-set, nothing is beyond the pale if that’s what makes you happy; and as cogently argued as her views are here, it’s hard to disagree with her, even if it may not be your personal bag.
Technically, the vid-to-film transfer will fare better on the smaller screen, and the clips from Norvind’s Mexican movies, though interesting, are blurry in the extreme. Docu also runs out of steam in the last 20 minutes, when it journeys to Norway and her family. Though the film is for the large part visually discreet, one extended sequence of Eva in dominatrix mode, with knife, candle and female supplicant, is not for the squeamish.