22. Spanking the Monkey (1994)

Date First Watched: 6/03/2012
Date Last Watched: 6/03/2012
# Viewings: 2

When I first (and last) watched this, I gave it a 9 but couldn’t get it off my mind so after a few days raised it to a 10. The only flaw in it that I found was the doctor scenes and the friend scenes, which seemed a bit pointless.

Although it doesn’t really give me that 10/10 feeling anymore, there’s nothing really wrong with it. The acting is great, the chemistry between Davies and Watson is great, the pacing is great, the nonjudgmental nature of it is great. It really annoys me when people automatically write off any film dealing with a taboo subject – if you’re that closed-minded you can’t look beyond that, then you shouldn’t be watching films; go play in the garden and never leave your front door if you can’t handle anything outside your comfort zone.

Anyway, the film works so well for a few reasons; it’s not exploitative, it’s not judgmental and the chemistry between Davies and Watson. The fact that they have a weird relationship throughout and there seems to be some kind of connection between them makes it seem less ‘disgusting’ and more just ‘awkward’. Although it does purposely play some scenes as erotic, it never exploits the nature of it, nor does it go for cheap or trashy shock tactics – you never see them do anything, just the build-up and the aftermath. It also is not saying ‘yay incest is great’ or ‘boo incest is evil’ because it’s not about incest. It involves incest, but it’s not about incest (and again, if you’re one of the afore-mentioned closed-minded idiots and are stuck on that, then go away please).

The film is about Ray. It’s about his sexual frustration, his aimlessness in life and how the culmination of these things lead to him doing something he shouldn’t have. Although the build-up of it is my favourite (an amazing feat to create that tension and not cross the line), it’s also interesting to see the contrast between how Ray and his mother react to the incident – he scrubs himself raw, his personality starts to change and his non-sexual frustration increases. Yet, his mother acts like it never happened.

Anyway, I still think it’s a fantastic film but perhaps what made it work so well for me the first time was not knowing where it was going.


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