Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist | Chicago Reader

Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

Kirby Dick's 1996 documentary about performance artist and writer Bob Flanagan—born with cystic fibrosis, an incurable disease that made pain a constant factor in his life—chronicles his masochism, graphically illustrated in his performance pieces, as a way he coped therapeutically with his condition. The film also deals at length with Sheree Rose, who became Flanagan's dominatrix, companion, and artistic collaborator over the last 15 years of his life, drawing some of its material from her own videotapes as well as Dick's film footage. What emerges is perhaps the first in-depth look on film at a long-term sadomasochistic relationship, though one might argue that the nature of Rose's investment is often ambiguous. Overall, this is serious, powerful, and provocative stuff. I can't recall a film that compelled me to look away from the screen more often.

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