Didn't Do It for Love

Eva Norvind, a Norway-born, New York-based former dominatrix also known as Ava Taurel, opens by wondering whether any truths about her will really make it into this 1997 documentary. But she needn't have worried—filmmaker Monika Treut appreciates both Eva's exhibitionism and her self-awareness. Even as she accuses her mother of treating her insensitively when she was a young girl, Eva expresses sadness about their shared past without indulging in regret about the shape her life has taken since. Her father, brother, and several friends and colleagues also appear in the movie, demonstrating unambiguously supportive relationships with her. Treut collages posters and clips from Eva's several movies made in Mexico in the early 60s and includes a scene in which she consults with a client to determine which of her employees is best suited for his particular fantasy. A stagy yet authentic sexual scenario shows her carefully threatening a bound woman with a knife, developing our understanding of her feelings about consensual torture far beyond an earlier scene of sexualized horseplay with an old friend. Treut's portrait reveals an intelligent, compassionate woman's ongoing struggle with personal integrity, showing how sensationalism can hide depth as easily as it hides shallowness.

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