Alikeable, low-key demystification of a potentially lurid subject, docu “Whipped” examines S&M both as a business and therapy. Unlike most prior treatments (i.e. Nick Broomfield’s omigawd-giggly nonfiction “Fetishes,” the silly big-budgeter “Exit to Eden” or recent Brit comedy “Preaching to the Perverted”), short feature, not to be confused with the imminent Destination Films feature of the same name, doesn’t exploit theme for snarky laughs or softcore titillation, inducing some respect for the dominatrix profession. Specialty theatrical and tube exposure are apt.
Principals are three Manhattan mistresses who readily satisfy their devoted clienteles’ need for very, very tough-love: Bubbly young Carrie, glamorous 30 -ish Sonja Blaze and middle-aged, Teutonic-accented scene veteran Eva Taurel. All feel they’re providing an important, only semi-sexual service, a sentiment strongly seconded by three equally forthcoming male clients.
Both camps cite emotional-physical catharses experienced in various bondage, whipping, etc., rituals. But this pursuit can also create problems: Sonja’s allegedly open-minded b.f. became less so after wedlock, prompting divorce. Carrie’s husband (they take vows on-camera) also has mixed feelings about her career choice, while her best customer lost his own marriage over related issues.
At 50, Eva (who admits an underlying fear of men has made her sometimes “abusive, sadistic in the wrong sense”) struggles to sustain a first-ever live-in relationship. All protags are admirably frank, even quite engaging.
Some domination scenes glimpsed are intense; most amusing seg finds Eva teaching a Learning Annex classroom of skittish, excited housewives-cum-wannabe-dominatrixes. Avoiding sensationalism with a curious yet nonjudgmental p.o.v., co-helmers Iana Porter and Sasha Waters (both taking an unlikely departure from their usual political/nature docu turf) might easily have stretched brisk pic’s running time further. Tech values are verite-modest but competent.