Noel Graydon, Greg Bloye, Jackie McMillan, Zoo, Rev. Greg Smith, Mistress Felina
CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
NR (but contains graphic scenes of sexuality)
"Liberty in Restraint" Review
Role play, perhaps?
Hmmm. No? Submission? Dominance?
Perhaps you are a latex freak? Ropes? Wax? Blood? Other body fluids?
Am I making you cringe or are you starting to touch yourself?
"Liberty in Restraint," a documentary based upon the life and work of fetish photographer Noel Graydon, celebrates sexuality and society on the fringes by providing an intelligent, sensitive and authentic look at the largely hidden world of bondage anddiscipline, dominance/submission, sadomasochism, fetish fashion and alternative sex.
As directed by Michael Ney, "Liberty in Restraint" peeks behind the scenes of Graydon's live action portrait work capturing everyone from lapsed Catholics to pain sluts, adult babies to rope artists and blood play enthusiasts.
While the potential for exploitation or titillation is high in a film such as this, Ney has created a surprisingly insightful film featuring testimonials from the many masters, submissives, and others who so deeply inspired Graydon's work.
As honestly as Ney portrays Graydon's work, so too "Liberty in Restraint" delves into the man himself, an artist who experienced years of drug addiction but then devoted himself to recovery, marriage and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, fatherhood only to die in July 2007 before the age of 40 due to a massive heart attack.
Graydon's struggle to balance his very alternative professional life with the demands of raising young children are portrayed quite honestly here, just as Ney also captures on film the often poignant reasons that lead individuals into the fetish lifestyle.
Graydon was perhaps most noted, and abhorred by many Catholics, for his photographic tableau entitled "Suffer the Little Children," a pointed and powerful photographic essay based upon Ruben's "Coup de Lance" but replacing the religious imagery with a fetish motif. A lapsed Catholic himself, Graydon's scathing views of the Catholic sexual abuse scandals were quite well known and one would guess his portraits here didn't gain him any new fans among Catholics.
"Liberty in Restraint," so beautifully titled as the film works wondrously as a photographic essay that illuminates the freedom these individuals find in their own fetish practices, is also a surprisingly accessible film that should easily reach an audience beyond those interested in the fetish world. While the film is undeniably graphic in its portrayal of a wide variety of fetish practices, "Liberty in Restraint" never feels exploitative or gratuitous. In fact, "Liberty in Restraint" often feels like a privileged and intimate look inside the secrets, needs, desires and hearts of people who look an awful lot like you and me.
"Liberty in Restraint" isn't a film for those seeking a cheap cinematic thrill, but if you've always been curious about alternative lifestyles or already practice one then "Liberty in Restraint" will prove to be a beautifully photographed and intelligently filmed essay on the hearts, minds, bodies and souls that dwell inside a world both deviant and delightful.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic