Loosely based on the true story of an S&M relationship gone awry, "Tied" suffocates with its self-importance and ponderous art direction (think 25 shades of gray).

If anyone finds an ounce of love in thesp-turned-helmer Helene Fillieres’ “Tied” (the French title means “A Love Story”), will they raise their hand? Loosely based on the true story of an S&M relationship gone awry, “Tied” suffocates with its self-importance and ponderous art direction (think 25 shades of gray). Fetishes are usually best left to cheap amateur stuff; when production values are added, the earnestness stifles any sexual charge. Fillieres means to say something important about male/female desire, but just comes off as pompous, and locals didn’t buy it. Neither will fests.

Laetitia Casta is the Young Woman (no one has names), married to a grandfatherly gent (Richard Bohringer)who looks on with strange passivity as she becomes involved with the Banker (Benoit Poelvoorde). In normal life, she’s docile and he’s sadistic, but in bed, she’s the dominatrix and he’s the masochist. When he offers her a million dollars and she wants the cash as a test, things get ugly. Casta’s character is blank (she’s no Belle de Jour), and Poelvoorde’s is merely vile. If anyone were to crack a smile, the camera lens might break.

Tied

France-Luxemburg

Production

A Wild Bunch Distribution (in France) release of an Albertine Prods., Samsa Film, Entre Chien et Loup, Arte France Cinema production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cine Plus, Arte France, the Film Fund Luxembourg, La Wallonie et de la Region de Bruxelles Capitale. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Matthieu Tarot, Jani Thiltges. Co-producer, Diana Elbaum. Directed by Helene Fillieres. Screenplay, Fillieres, adapted from the novel "Severe" by Regis Jauffret.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Christophe Beaucarne; editor, Philippe Bourgueil; music, Etienne Daho; production designer, Veronique Sacrez; costume designer, Laurence Struz; sound (Dolby SRD), Michel Schillings; assistant director, Marc Baraduc. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Bright Future), Jan. 24, 2013. (Also in Berlin Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Benoit Poelvoorde, Laetitia Casta, Richard Bohringer, Reda Kateb, Herve Sogne, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Philippe Nahon, Vicky Krieps.

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