Sometimes, it just happens.
Sometimes, you get to the end of a film and you just mumble to yourself "I loved that film."
I loved S&M Sally.
The film,which recently premiered at San Francisco's Frameline Film Festival and is set for a June 30th screening at Kansas City's Out Here Now, is the third installment of the Butch Jamie series and follows the relationship of Jamie (Michelle Ehlen, Heterosexual Jill, Butch Jamie) and Jill (Jen McPherson, Heterosexual Jill) as they start going to S&M clubs after Jamie becomes insecure about Jill's kinky past. Jamie, the butch in a traditional butch/femme relationship, assumes that she will play the dominant role as the two begin their journey through BDSM.
Jill? She has something else in mind.
A delightfully entertaining and awesomely kinky romp through flogging, electric play, fire play, and life in the dungeon snack room, S&M Sally is about 100 times more entertaining and authentic than the straighter yet far more awkwardly awful 50 Shades drivel.
This has much to do with the conscious coupling of Ehlen and McPherson, who are delightful together and clearly understand both the hilarious potential and authentic roots of this material. McPherson, who picked up the prize for Best Actress at the Laugh or Die Comedy Film Festival, is an absolute riot as Jill, a swarm of sensuality and kink mixed with just the right dosage of rich humanity and affection.
Ehlen, on the other hand, is, and I can't believe I'm using this comparison, almost the Barney Fife of the BDSM world, a woman whose idea of dominance is frequent usage of the word "bitch" that can't possibly disguise the fact that she's a closet submissive longing for a relationship into which she can truly surrender.
Take that, Mr. Grey.
It is noted in the film's publicity materials that S&M Sally aims to portray BDSM in a realistic yet accessible way that appeals to those actually in the kink community and those for whom it has remained a source of curiosity and intrigue.
In addition to the main relationship between Jill and Jamie, S&M Sally examines the world of polyamory, a world a wee bit less kinky yet no less misunderstood by the mainstream public. Lola (Shaela Cook), David (Scott Keiji Takeda), and Sebastian (Adrian Gonzalez) stumble, occasionally quite awkwardly, through the joys and pitfalls of life with more than one true love.
Johnny Harris's music gives S&M Sally a spry and fun spirit that occasionally slows down for the film's more introspective scenes, while D.P. Olivia Kuan's lensing is fun and frolicsome yet also wonderful in the way she allows shots to linger as the two begin to learn what it really means to surrender to a relationship.
In addition to Ehlen's fine performance, I found myself utterly captivated by dialogue that is respectful and fun and spirited and honest and, at least in a couple scenes, amazingly sweet and honest. The joy is that both Ehlen and McPherson can pull off both sides of the occasion - equally convincing as both kinksters and two women just trying to be in a relationship.
With heart and humor fully intact, S&M Sally is a sweet and sexy and vulnerable film that not only makes you enjoy its characters but makes you wish you had them in your life. For more information on S&M Sally, be sure to visit the film's Facebook page and watch for it at a festival near you.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic